Insofar as the techniques are concerned, the poetess employs imagery, symbolism, word choice and structure so as to entrench in the mind of the deader that “Valentine” Is an unusual love-poem. The poem commences with a negative note “not a red rose” to slash the traditional offering of rose or satin cloth on Valentine’s Day. It is not just a sardonic expression but a deeper statement about love. This is indeed to portray the idea that love is not to be taken as a bed of roses always, but to accept the thorns we find underneath the roses. Love has joyful and sorrowful nature.
Although the alliteration ‘red rose’ elects the conventional symbolism, nevertheless, the negation by the use of ‘not’ dilutes the usual notion. The iris line is structured to stick out from the following lines and applied as stand-alone sentence In order to be more emphatic in Its expression. Carol gives the Image of onion to love which Is vividly seen In the second line “l give you an onion”. She metaphorically describes onion as a moon that is wrapped up in a brown paper. The poetess uses again another metaphor in the same line by comparing skin of an onion too brown paper.
Moonlight is often associated with romantic evenings. Onion, described as moon, casts light on the characters of lovers, to discover the true nature of each other as they begin to relate with one another. The different layers of the onion are like the layers of someone’s personality. Beauty is just skin deep, but discovery of true character deepens one’s love. The words “careful undressing of love” refer to the above Idea. Carol evidently expresses the Idea that true love Is not based on the complexion or appearance, but in discovering the true personality of the other.
Duffy goes further to expound the idea of acceptance by the adverb “Here”. She requests her lover to accept the gift, with a condition that If he opens up, It can also cause tears or grief. When a person receives a gift It always gives gladness, forever, the gift inside may not be Upton one’s expectation. It can, at times, cause disappointment. Likewise, love has the dual nature of immersing us into pain or pleasure. The words “wobbling Photo of grief” is linked to the line “careful undressing of love”.
When you look at a photo with tears, It doesn’t give the real Image of that photo, but a blurred or wobbling Image. So too, love doesn’t give the true nature of the other initially, but when you begin to “undress” (discover) the real self of the other, it can cause you grief. However, Carol invites us to accept the dual nature with the alliterated words “trying to be truthful”. In the sixth stanza, Dud illustrates that love demands romance, possessiveness and loyalty. As per Duffy, It Is nothing wrong to have physical relation in the expression of love, such as kissing, caressing, etc.
The moment you indulge into physical affection, it invites for an eternal well. Such physical affection should lead to the next stage of love – marriage. There is another idea that revolves around this line is that your partner will be faithful to you as long as you are faithful to your partner. Loyalty shares its mutuality (loyalty is mutual). The personified words “Its fierce kiss will stay on your lips” refer to the idea hat even if you ditch your lover and goes with another, the thought of your old partner will always linger around your mind.
Duffy winds up the poem with the concept of “marriage”. She suggests that the bright white core of the onion is like a wedding ring: ‘Its platinum loops shrinks to a wedding ring. Nevertheless, marriage is just an option, which is apparently seen in the line “if you like”. If the love doesn’t end with marriage, after having had all the “fun” (physical relation) the consequences become “lethal”. As stated in the fifth stanza, even if one ditches the partner and goes with another, the ‘scent’ or the thought’ of him or her, will always be engraved in our mind.
Carol metaphorically depicts the thought of the first partner as ‘scent’. His or her thoughts will be like a thorn in your flesh, Just like the smell of onion will cling to our fingers or knife even after washing. The image of knife is brought out to demonstrate that disloyalty can cause destruction to your happiness. The tone of the poem is at times cynical; however, Duffy uses to demonstrate the true nature of love, which is very obvious in the line “l am trying to be truthful”. This love-poem, as been an unusual one as it expresses a diverse point to the usual representation of love.