"First Love" Carol Ann Duffy: Analysis Of Mood And Tone Of The Poem

In the ""First Love" Carol Ann Duffy Analysis" we will research the literary devices, mood, and tone of the poem. Carol Ann Duffy’s “First Love” is an overt poem primarily aimed at describing the memory of her first experience with love. The poem focuses on the first love of the narrator, Carol Ann Duffy. Through numerous ways, Carol Ann Duffy portrays her first love as something raw and unforgettable, however, never failing to illustrate the naivety in first love and the sense of youthfulness in it. Carol Ann Duffy writes this poem with a rather sophisticated and formal manner with the use of low frequency lexis as well such as, ‘waking’. The overall effect that the poem creates in the mind of the reader is that of nostalgia and sentiment, which is very closely linked to the mood and tone that it creates.

The poem is written in quite a dramatic tone as a romantic-style poem which draws on nature for imagery. Throughout the poem, the theme is generally the sense of loss, emptiness and nostalgia and this is shown in the phrase, “an old film played at a slow speed”. Many comparisons are made, comparing large facets of nature to each other such as “windows of changing sky”, and these comparisons emphasise the importance of love. The poem’s structure is relatively short with three quintain stanzas. This could suggest a reflection of Duffy’s perception of first love being short lived but filled with memories and emotions. Duffy may have intended to show the effects of first love and the beauty of possibility. The use of the past and present tense simultaneously brings rise to a strong feeling of nostalgia which relates to the overall theme of the text.

Despite the positive memories, the poem still highlights the pain in the loss of love. The phrase, “waking, with a dream of first love”, which is from the first line of the poem, emphasises the feeling of something new - like the start of a new day. This could be associated with the title “first love” being a new feeling. The noun, ‘dream’ could reference to the surrealism that is also associated with first love as your emotions and attraction is heightened, perhaps from naivety. In the second stanza, the pathetic fallacy, “changing sky” is used to suggest the narrator’s emotions and to distinguish the difference between the present and the past. It could also suggest that Duffy has moved on from her first love, hence, “waking” which could imply it will last forever as a memory. It makes the reader feel sorry for the author for losing this love. It is clear the importance of this to Duffy as it is shown to occupy her thoughts through the phrase, “All day I will glimpse it. ” The “star” in stanza three symbolises hope and possibility, however, the contrasting, “long dead” indicates the love living in the past which brings rise again to the sense of loss and emptiness. This inflicts sympathy in the reader as he can identify to the pains of losing love.

The poem ends on a bittersweet note with the juxtaposition of “tear” and “sweetened air” as it implies the sorrow at the loss of love but proves the author is learning to accept it and move on to better things.


15 April 2020
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