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    A comparison of the two poems, “Valentine” by Carol Ann Duffy, and “The Sunne Rising” by John Donne Essay

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    Both poems talk about the same subject, which is love, but in contrary they are very different. Each poem uses strange imagery, in Donne’s poem he personifies the sun, he addresses it,

    “Busie old foole, unruly Sunne,

    Why dost thou thus.”

    He also uses a capital letter for the sun to give an impression of importance. In Duffy’s poem, she uses an onion as a symbol of her love. They both reject the traditional aspects of love, but they also show great tenderness and feeling. “Valentine” is a modern poem, whereas “The Sunne Rising” is a pre 1900 poem. They mutually challenge the traditional love poetry,

    “Not a red rose or a satin heart.”

    “Valentine” is written in a series of disjointed lines, while “The Sunne Rising” is written in separate verses. They are both written in first person.

    In “Valentine”, Duffy rejects all the traditional aspects of love. She uses strange imagery to try and put her views forward. The poet does not use a rhyming scheme. “The Sunne Rising”, however, does encompass a rhyming scheme, Donne uses rhyming couplets. Another way in which the poems contrast each other is the use of language. We can read “Valentine”, and understand the dialogue without difficulty. “The Sunne Rising”, however is considerably harder to comprehend due to the pre 1900 dialogue. The poem was written in Shakespearean times. Duffy uses direct speech in her poem,

    “I give you an onion.”

    She use this onion is used as a metaphor for her love. This statement is repeated twice throughout the poem along with the modern valentine images which she opens the poem with,

    “Not a red rose or a satin heart.”

    Donne use the image of light, as does Duffy,

    “It is a moon wrapped in brown paper.

    It promises light.”

    Donne’s poem talks about the sun throughout. This is another way in which the poems are similar, because they both talk about natural light, the sun and the moon. “Valentine” and “The Sunne Rising” also associate with each other since they both talk about certain aspects of being blind. Duffy believes that a lover can be compared with an onion. The onion brings tears to your eyes, and so does a lover.

    “It will blind you with tears

    Like a lover.”

    John Donne, however, talks about being blind by an entirely different approach. He comments that he could effortlessly close his eyes from the sun, but if he was to do this he would loose sight of his lover,

    “I could eclipse and cloud them with a winke,

    But that I would not loose her sight so long

    If her eyes had not blinded thine.”

    He claims that he has been blinded by the absolute beauty of his lover. He is enthralled by her and by no means wants to loose sight of this magnificence.

    In “Valentine”, Duffy discusses the matter of time in her relationship. She links the taste of onion on your lips with a kiss from her lover,

    “Its fierce kiss will stay on your lips,

    Possessive and faithful

    As we are,

    For as long as we are.”

    In this section of the poem, she also involves her partner because she uses the word “we”. Her interpretation is that the taste stays on your lips like a kiss. Donne, however, talks about time in a diverse method. He comments that time is not an issue in his relationship. His love knows no time,

    “Love, all alike, no season knows, nor clime,

    Nor hours, dayes, months, which are the rags of time.”

    He believes that he has all the time in the world left with his partner, therefore he dismisses time.

    Both poems are comparable because they each talk about distorted imagery and thoughts. In “Valentine”, Duffy talks about her love becoming misshapen,

    “It will make your reflection

    A wobbling photo of grief.”

    In Donnes poem, he has distorted views. He remarks that he has all the riches of the world being present with him,

    “Aske for those Kings whom thou saws’t yesterday,

    And thou shalt heare, All here in one bed lay.”

    This quote represents his distorted thoughts due to falling so intensely in love. He believes that his lover is the world and everything in it, this is a personification, as he is exaggerating the importance of his lover. Each poem, in addition, talk about rounded objects. Duffy talks about a wedding ring, which is round,

    “Its platinum loops shrink to a wedding ring.”

    She connects the small layer inside the onion with a wedding ring. This quote possibly has another meaning which is the different layers of relationships. In Donne’s poem, however he talks about a spheare, which too, is round,

    “Shine here to us, and thou art everywhere,

    This bed thy centre is, these walls, thy spheare.”

    He informs the sun to only shine where he and his lover are because they simply are the world. Just by shining on them, the whole world will have sunlight. He trusts that everything is there with him because he has his partner present.

    The poems contrast each other because both poets have diverse views on relationships. Duffy understands that a relationship can easily be unsuccessful. Her view is that marriage is lethal; it constricts you and ties you down,


    Donne however is so infatuated with his lover that he cannot distinguish any faulty aspects of his relationship. He thinks that they are both equally contented and that his bond with his partner will never break down,

    “She’is all States, and all Princes, I,

    Nothing else is.”

    He believes that she is everything, all the states, all the world and that he is equivalent to all the Princes in the world.

    Personally, I am fond of both poems. My preferred poem yet would be “Valentine”. This was because I found the language easy to comprehend and I also found it straightforward to relate to. I enjoyed reading her uses of strange imagery, I think these made it more appealing. “The Sunne Rising” was particularly challenging to understand due to the pre 1900 dialogue. I also found “The Sunne Rising” to be slightly tedious and dull.

    I enjoyed studying these poems because of the eccentric imagery and the use of hyperboles. Another reason as to why I enjoyed reading them is because they are unlike the traditional love poetry, they are unique.


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    A comparison of the two poems, “Valentine” by Carol Ann Duffy, and “The Sunne Rising” by John Donne Essay. (2017, Oct 26). Retrieved from

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