‘Valentine’ and ‘My Box’ are two completely different poems. They are written differently, they are structured differently, but the one major thing they have in common is love. Both poems are about love.
Each poem uses a metaphor to describe the author’s feelings about love, and, although totally different, the comparison is clear. The use of imagery in each poem is also clear. The meaning of both of the poems is different. “My Box” has no moral but is rather a story about her life and memories. “Valentine” is intentionally unconventional to highlight her passion for him. Sub-consciously she still loves him, but bitterness and hatred seem to run through this poem.
‘My Box’ uses conventional, emotional imagery of an historic feeling of love. The feelings you get after you have read it are that the author, Gillian Clarke, has had a lifetime relationship, which she is content with. The imagery she uses is ripe and she talks about harvesting ‘apples and words and days’; it promotes a feeling of satisfaction.
‘Valentine’ is bold and sharp. Its aim is to ridicule traditional valentine gifts, and out wit them. It does not flow like ‘My Box’ and it is staccato. The use of the onion makes the reader start to think about the feeling they get from chopping up an onion. Some of the language used is perfect for the feeling the author is trying to put across. ‘Lethal’ and ‘Fierce’ are two words, which describe an onion and obviously Carol Ann Duffy’s opinion of love. There is no mention of the person she is writing about. The man, who has betrayed, signifies the onion.
The tone of both of the poems is different. In “My Box” the tone is a warm, autumnal feeling that is portrayed through warm sounding words such as ‘golden oak’ and ‘heartsease’. “Valentine” has a quite an aggressive feel to it. This is because of all the single lined sentences and the single word sentences such as ‘lethal’. Most of these sound like orders, ‘Take it.’ and ‘Here.’
Each poem is written in the first person, and is loyal to the author’s feelings. It is obviously showing us personal experiences of the authors past and present love. ‘My Box’ paints a positive picture of love. The love this person has been through has lasted her a lifetime. She has all her memories in the box that she keeps. ‘Valentine’ is also about the author’s feelings of love. Her love has betrayed her, and hurt her. It has made her ‘reflection a wobbling photo of grief’. Her opinion of love is that of an onion, sharp, fierce and it makes you cry.
‘Its platinum loops shrink to a wedding-ring’, means that as you get nearer to the centre of the onion, the intensity increases and what you are left with are loops that look like a wedding ring. The author wants the reader to think that marriage will ultimately lead to death or divorce, or she has written it sarcastically to the lover, maybe he thinks marriage is meaningless and she is writing is mockingly. ‘Its scent will cling to your fingers, cling to your knife.’ She is stating that love has such a possessive grasp on her. It clings to her. This is a powerful and portrays the authors feeling for the person that has betrayed her love. It is certainly not a traditional poem about love.
The technique of each poem is contrasting. ‘My Box’ flows like a love poem should. It uses repetition, beautiful imagery and flows gently. Rhyme is present in ‘My Box’, and is non-existent in ‘Valentine’. Sharp and angry words are fired at the reader. We are left in no doubt that the scent and taste of this love will ‘cling to your fingers and cling to your knife’.
In conclusion, both poems are about love. One is happy, long-term love the other is bitter and devastating love.