Critical Essay Before You Were Mine

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“Before you were mine” by Carol Ann Duffy is a very emotionally charged poem about loss and cherished memories. The poet explores the significance of the past by looking back nostalgically and celebrating her mother’s previous, glamorous life before she was blessed with her child. The poet uses the techniques of tone, word choice and imagery to focus clearly on her life before she, the poet herself, ever existed. Duffy overall tone throughout the poem has a very nostalgic feel as she looks back on her mothers previous life.

In stanza three the poet looks back at one of her childhood memories, “l remember my hands in those high- healed red shoes. ” Here Duffy looks back fondly on her past to when her mother was alive. It shows how much the poet admires her mother as the memory is such a small one, but must have meant a lot to her. In stanza two her tone is quite light-hearted as she refers back to her mothers teenage years. “Your ma stands at the close with a hidden for a late one. ” This shows her mothers relationship with her mum and how her life wasn’t as perfect as t seemed to be as she also had a rebellious side to her.

At the beginning of stanza four Duffy shows an admiring tone towards the things her mother once taught her. “Chaw chaw Chaw! You’d teach me the steps on the way home from mass. ” The poet’s word choice throughout the poem is very effective. In stanza two the poet uses the word “fizzy’ to describe her mothers old boyfriends. This word tells us that they were never permanent and most were temporary, never lasting for very long. Again in stanza two Duffy makes it sound as if her mothers is being stared at by “a thousand eyes.

In actuality she is referring to the disco ball that is surrounding her mother as she dance. This emphasizes the fact that she remembers her mother being glamorous and imagines that the men surrounding her would be staring at how beautiful she was. Near the end of the poem in stanza four Duffy uses the words “Stamping stars. ” Not only does the word star give you the connotation of glamour, she also uses the techniques of onomatopoeia and alliteration to draw emphasis to the sound. These words also suggests they are gone just like her mother is.

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