Rapture: ‘Forest’ and ‘Text’ extension work

Discussion of the poem ‘Text’ looking at the role of technology in modern relationships:

http://www.tusitala.org.uk/blog/carol-ann-duffys-text-in-aqa-anthology-an-analysis/

Symbolism of forests:

http://www.fao.org/docrep/005/y9882e/y9882e08.htm

The fairytale forest a source of symbolism:

http://www.woodlands.co.uk/blog/flora-and-fauna/the-fairytale-forest-%E2%80%93-a-source-of-symbolism/

Using your own ideas and your wider reading from the above articles answer the following questions:

1) What does the poem ‘Text’ reveal about 21st century relationships?

2) Do you feel empathy or pity for the speaker in the poem ‘Text’?

3) What is your interpretation of the fairytale motif in the poem ‘Forest’? What link is Duffy making between the symbol of the forest and the experience of the speaker?

4) How does Duffy use nature imagery in this poem? What does it reveal about the speaker’s relationship?

Your total word count should be at least 800 words and each answer should include quotations.

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29 Responses to Rapture: ‘Forest’ and ‘Text’ extension work

  1. Bethany says:

    1) What does the poem ‘Text’ reveal about 21st century relationships?
    As shown in the title, the beginnings of many relationships revolve around texts or electronically communication, the poem ‘Text’ by Carol Ann Duffy is how her relationship begins. In years before mobile phones, other than letters, people indulged through conversation which expressed their emotions through pitch and pace of speaking, however modern society commonly use texts. The line ‘I re-read your first, your second, your last’ shows how permanent the messages are and can be looked over and over again, whereas before this means of communication you would have to reply to the speaker straight away without time to think of a suitable one. This conveys that she is taking her time out to reply to her lover; in a sense she was obsessed with trying too hard to be perfect with an expense of quality of the conversation. Also in the 21st century ‘the small xx’ is extremely significant, where Duffy shows slight obsession with looking for them from her lover, however, the majority of modern society do currently. With all the advantages of texts, to be able to take time to reply, there are weaknesses which Duffy explores in the last stanza, ‘Nothing my thumbs press will ever be heard’ which suggests that she wants to continue the relationship onto the next level, she wants to express her emotions to her lover through actions and is eager to be close to her.

    2) Do you feel empathy or pity for the speaker in the poem ‘Text’?
    I empathise with the speaker in the poem ‘Text’ by Duffy because I can understand why she does the things she does. The simile ‘I tend the mobile now like an injured bird’ suggests how fragile she presumes the relationship to be at this point and how she must care for it for it to continue. Also, the monotonous repetition of ‘We text, text, text our significant words’ conveys the excitement she gets whenever she receives a text from her lover and possibly the breathlessness of how she feels physically. The word ‘code’ emphasises the connection to two understand each other; communicating in a way outsiders would not understand. This shows something ‘significant’ towards there beginning relationship. It could be interpreted that she is looking into every detail of the relationship, as it is precious to her because she does not want to lose the feeling she has which she even describes as ‘absurd’ but accepts that. Moreover, the line ‘I try to picture your hands, their image is blurred’ which could emphasise the blurriness of what she knows of the feelings of the recipient. The word ‘blurred’ suggests confusion, which could be the confusion of her emotions, or her lovers.

    3) What is your interpretation of the fairytale motif in the poem ‘Forest’? What link is Duffy making between the symbol of the forest and the experience of the speaker?
    The poem ‘Forest’ by Carol Ann Duffy is a female speaker who enters a forest to meet her lover and returns experienced, through the speaker and lover having sex; the new experience could be because she was with another woman for the first time. Forests are continuously used as a motif in fairytales as a transformation from innocence to experience. Trees and forests thus took on symbolic divine characteristics, or were seen to represent superlative forces such as courage, endurance or immortality. The line ‘we go deeper into the woods and follow you still, till even my childhood shrank’ evidently suggests that she transforms from innocence to experience. The line ‘and go deeper into the woods and follow you still’ shows the extreme trust she has put into her lover, by the use of the word ‘still’ which conveys she had some doubt before.

    4) How does Duffy use nature imagery in this poem? What does it reveal about the speaker’s relationship?
    There is vast collection of nature imagery throughout ‘Forest’ by Duffy, which explores the senses of the speaker. The phrases ‘thorns on my breasts’, ‘rain in my mouth’ and ‘rough bark grazing my back’ could be a personification of her lovers’ actions towards her, which is then added by ‘You were the water, the wind.’ Wind is symbolised as your life force, energy, and vigour. It reflects changes in your life. Alternatively, it suggests that you need to speed up toward achieving your goals or solving some lingering problem. Duffy also phrases ‘under the sighing, restless trees’ which could be a metaphor of her nerves as she knows what is about to happen that night. She symbolises the forest as a place where nature is dominant, by ‘dwarfed by the giant trees’ which portrays that she is not in her comfort zone and feels slightly scared and possibly unimportant. The speaker may have wished for a better reaction from her lover at the end which is also expressed through ‘didn’t we?’ in stanza 3.

    • Mrs Taylor says:

      A really good first comment Bethany, well done. I particularly liked your comment recognising the advantages and disadvantages of communicating by text – the time text messaging provides to consider what you are writing can be liberating but also stressful as you rework your message and hesitate to send it.

  2. Steph says:

    1) What does the poem ‘Text’ reveal about 21st century relationships?
    ‘Text” reveals in a playfully serious manner, the benefits and limitations of texting. Duffy shows that texting is often inadequate as she says the texts arrive “with a broken chord” revealing that for herself and possibly for many others its just a way of keeping love alive in the 21st century. The absence of Duffy’s love shows that the main ‘relational sustenance’ is from the heavy amount of texting as she says “we text, text, text” showing the addictive and obsessive nature that texting can have on relationships today. “Nothing my thumbs press// will ever be heard” shows how texting that one person you love causes, frankly a lot of society, to pay little or no attention to the world around them as they are too wrapped up in their texting relationship and not noticing the people around them, causing many people to look ignorant. Texting has a way of playing with our emotional health when it comes to relationships as Duffy admits her anxiety over the missing ‘X’, which shows that even though the specific “codes” we send to our loved ones show the changing state of a relationship very prominently, texting cant really be very emotionally healthy.

    2) Do you feel empathy or pity for the speaker in the poem ‘Text’?
    It is clear that Duffy admits to “feeling absurd” over this developed obsession she has to deal with however, the fact the she realises how ridiculously anxious she is for every text from her beloved makes it quite difficult to feel empathetic towards her, as she creates such a strong argument on how preposterous this whole behaviour is. On the other hand, every human has the capacity to feel a passionate love for something or someone, and therefore it is quite amiable of Duffy to share these feelings with the public as she feels “like an injured bird” showing that she feels she has lost her free will and the ability to fly whenever she feels, proving to be in a vulnerable position. In this sense everyone can relate to this poem and emotionally engage with Duffy because on a larger scale it’s more about an infatuation of something, which every human being develops in one way or another. As Duffy awkwardly admits “I re-read you first, your second, your third” she shows how you have to keep reading the same texts to truly decipher the meaning or the attitude of the sender, and admirably confesses the danger that texting has by not hearing the tone of someone’s voice.

    3) What is your interpretation of the fairytale motif in the poem ‘Forest’? What link is Duffy making between the symbol of the forest and the experience of the speaker?
    The fairytale motif in forest compares the experience of falling in love with someone to getting lost in a forest, which is a common story where the forest usually stands for the dark excitements of the child’s transition to adulthood.
    At the start of the poem Duffy follows her lover away from the fading daylight of childhood into the shade of the forest as she writes “flowers at the edge of the forest, cupping// The last of the light in their upturned petals” showing that she has instantly linked herself with her surroundings. Entering the forest is seen as a loss of self, mirroring the loss of innocence, which we regularly associate with a first love as Duffy says “my whole life vanished” meaning that she is struggling to keep hold of what she has. The loss of self is unsettling, but also sensuous from “We undressed, // then dressed again in the gowns of the moon” almost implying that she is somewhat blissfully unaware of the changes that are happening to her, but focusing more on the shimmering moonlight that surrounds her. The loss of self and innocence is confusing, but also an adventure. However, at the same time there is a sense that what has been lost is tangible, while what has been gained might yet prove to be an illusion from the rhetorical question “Didn’t we?” We are reminded however, as the poem progresses, that was has been lost is lost from “those flowers darkened and closed”

    4) How does Duffy use nature imagery in this poem? What does it reveal about the speaker’s relationship?
    Throught out the poem Duffy uses nature symbolically to portray her own emotions about her relationship. She personifies the “sighing, restless tress” to show the nervous anticipation she is feeling, and implies that nature is a part of this whole experience. She suggest that the moon is helping the both of them as is “tossed down its shimmering cloth” which reinforces the idea that nature is a huge part of this. She also uses nature (the moon) to give quite a romantic description of nakedness as she writes “we undressed, then dressed again in the gowns of the moon” which symbolically uses the idea that nature is cloaking them and enhancing the experience. However “deeper into the woods” suggests a very sinister and dangerous tone which contrasts with the earlier enchanting descriptions of the forest, which leads onto the pivotal point in the poem as she writes that her “childhood shrank” comparing it to a “glow-worm of light” still linking nature with her feelings all the time, creating an ornamental feeling that nature is bringing.

    • Mrs Taylor says:

      Steph this is a really strong piece of criticism, very impressed. I think your answer to Q2 shows careful consideration as you look at different readings of the same poem. It is interesting when you recognise that Duffy’s awareness of her own compulsive behaviour makes it mroe difficult to sympathise or feel for her. Some would not agree but I would.

  3. Dani :) says:

    1) What does the poem ‘Text’ reveal about 21st century relationships?
    It shows that people rely on texts and technology too much as Duffy ‘tends the mobile now like an injured bird’; this shows that the mobile is extremely important to her as she is using it very delicately. However, some relationships can be misunderstood by texts as Duffy says ‘broken chord’ which suggests that the texts are not understood fully as the term ‘broken’ shows how something beautiful can be turned into an annoying tinny ringtone. Duffy shows how awkwardness can intervene with a relationship. She admits to the embarrassment of anxiety over even a missing ’X’ at the end of a message. And no matter how much the poet may tend to the mobile phone, the reality is that the beloved is not there which could put some strain on a modern relationship.
    2) Do you feel empathy or pity for the speaker in the poem ‘Text’?
    I feel a little empathy for the speaker in the poem as the final stanza says ‘Nothing my thumbs press will ever be heard’ which shows that even though she writes lots of texts and waits for the replies, sometimes the person doesn’t even see them. Also, I could suggest that the speaker isn’t sending what she really thinks so deletes the real message and starts again. This is sad as she never gets to express her real feelings to her lover. I also pity the speaker a little as she ‘re-read your first, your second, your third’ which put across her becoming a little desperate so you pity her as maybe the person on the receiving end isn’t so bad as her. On the other hand, it could mean that the speaker is insecure about her relationship and needs to re-read her texts over and over to make sure that they are real and everything is okay.
    3) What is your interpretation of the fairytale motif in the poem ‘Forest’? What link is Duffy making between the symbol of the forest and the experience of the speaker?
    In many fairytales a forest is used to show someone going in the forest innocent and coming out experienced, fairytales such as Hansel and Gretel and Little Red Riding Hood are a few that are examples of this. In the poem ‘Forest’, Duffy uses this fairytale motif to show the speaker going in innocent and coming out experienced as her and her lover have had sex. ‘My childhood shrank’ shows the speaker growing up and coming out of the woods no longer an innocent child but an experienced adult. The speaker has a lot of trust in her lover as she constantly follows her, ‘I followed you’, shows the amount of trust she has for her lover as she trusts her enough to go into the woods with her.
    4) How does Duffy use nature imagery in this poem? What does it reveal about the speaker’s relationship?
    The nature imagery shows the intimacy and delicacy of their relationship. ‘Gowns of moon’, for example, suggests that the moon is the only thing that is covering them in the forest. The fact that Duffy doesn’t bluntly put that they are naked shows that the relationship is delicate. The use of a forest is quite useful as a forest is normally deserted and quiet and this shows that no one is intervening in their relationship and they prefer to be isolated from everyone else. ‘Thorns on my breasts’ and ‘bark grazing my back’ shows that intimacy of the relationship; also Duffy likes to use an autonomy semantic field which, when used with the nature imagery, gives an effect way of showing the couple getting intimate. The use of ‘you were the water, the wind’ is a metaphor which shows that her lover is her everything but it could be also taken as her becoming a bit obsessive. ‘Dwarfed’ could suggest that she feels small in the trees and maybe scared and nervous of what is about to happen.

    • Mrs Taylor says:

      Great work Danni. Your explanation of the effect of the moon image (Q4) shows sensitivity and you are perceptive to consider how the delicacy and gentleness of this image makes the physical intimacy and nakedness seem more romantic and sensual rather than sexual.

  4. Jenny McGuire says:

    1) What does the poem ‘Text’ reveal about 21st century relationships?
    ‘Texting and the new media, give us more opportunity for misunderstanding, sudden anger and hurt’. This is an underlying tone throughout the ‘Rapture’ as Duffy has written the poems after her breakup; as a result, the breakup becomes immanent and is subtly foreshadowed even from the first poem ‘Text’.
    Duffy uses the metaphor of a ‘broken cord’ to describe how she receives the messages. This can either be perceived as irony that the message tone on her mobile phone cannot portray the true beauty of the message she has just received through a discordant ring tone or that the ‘broken’ symbolises her heartache as she is unable to be in the presence of her lover.
    Duffy is able to vividly represent the significance that text messages can have within the speaker’s 21st century relationship. She says how she is ‘feeling absurd’ for paying so much attention to how many times she receives an ‘x’ at the end of each message. This shows the reader how texts may remove from the true focus of the relationship- their love for each other.
    2) Do you feel empathy or pity for the speaker in the poem ‘Text’?
    Personally, I feel pity for Duffy in all of her ‘Rapture’ poems. The topic of her relationship and many relationships in general is one that I feel should remain strictly between two people. The way in which Duffy reveals intimate and personal details about her relationship is often conveyed with vivid unrealistic imagery and metaphors which shows the reader her immaturity and the lack of realism within the poems.
    I pity for the speaker in the poem ‘Text’ as the use of metaphorical language shows a lack of reality within the relationship. The way the speaker ‘tend[s]’ the ‘injured bird’ conveys a sense of fantasy for the reader. This could be perceived as immaturity from the speaker a she wants to ignore and avoid any adult complications in her life. The motif of a bird is used throughout the ‘Rapture’ poems as a symbol of freedom and liberty.
    Duffy uses repetition within a triple syntactical structure to inform the reader of the relentless conversation between the lovers. This could be seen as Duffy trying to prove herself to society and to have her relationship approved. By counting the texts ‘your first, your second, your third’ again proves the obsessive desperation that the speaker has with her partner, this can be observed by the reader as very obsessive, thus they feel pity for her.
    3) What is your interpretation of the fairytale motif in the poem ‘Forest’? What link is Duffy making between the symbol of the forest and the experience of the speaker?
    Fairytales often use the motif of a forest to symbolise a loss of innocence. Duffy has played on this common image and transformed it into an extended metaphor throughout the poem ‘Forest’. The use of sibilance throughout the poem creates a lustful but sinister tone to the poem, possibly foreshadowing some sorrow for the speaker. ‘sighing, restless trees’ conveys the peacefulness of the woods and the reader can imagine that the only sound that can be hears whilst the speaker is searching for her love is the wind blowing through the leaves in the trees.
    Duffy has used metaphorical language in the poem to portray the solitude that the two lovers feel from the rest of the world when they are inside the forest, cut off from the worries of reality. ‘the gowns of the moon’ conveys the private scene of the two characters being naked and intimate, the moon has been used to show the natural tone within the scene.
    Again, using the metaphor of a journey through a forest, the speaker explains how she ‘followed [her lover] in’. Not only does this suggest that the speaker is maybe less experienced than the other character, but the speaker is able to tell the audience that she has put full trust into the other’s hands. This could lead to danger and vulnerability for the speaker, however due to her failure to mention anything about the two, the reader can only assume that she has either ignored any of these thoughts or not even thought of them as she is so blinded by love and lust.
    4) How does Duffy use nature imagery in this poem? What does it reveal about the speaker’s relationship?
    The natural imagery can be perceived as unpredictable, ever-changing or can be seen to be a representation of the speaker’s love for the other character- as it is constantly growing and developing into something bigger.
    In the fourth stanza Duffy speaks about the speaker having her whole naked body covered in parts of nature which a reader may often find dirty or ugly. ‘rough bark grazing my back’. Instead of using very harsh, guttural words such as ‘scratching’ Duffy has used the gentle word ‘grazing’ to describe the feel of the bark, this could possibly show that she is so suspended in the heat of the moment whilst making love to the other character that nothing can deduct from her feeling of ecstasy, even the ugly, unwanted objects that lie on the bottom of a forest floor.

    • Mrs Taylor says:

      Wow. This is your best writing to date Jenny. Looks like you are starting A2 as you mean to go on. I am impressed with your assurance and strength of critical voice to denounce Duffy’s immaturity! Whilst not everyone will agree wtih you, you present a convincing argument and i’m pleased to see such a confident evaluation taking place.

  5. Hattie says:

    1) What does the poem ‘Text’ reveal about 21st century relationships?
    ‘[Duffy] admits here to the embarrassment of anxiety over even a missing ’X ’ at the end of a message’, by admitting to ‘feeling absurd’ and seeming slightly obsessed, Duffy clearly feels that this is a common feeling for many in love, proving that 21st century relationships can end up relying on something so insignificant as the amount of x’s at the end of a text message; Duffy believes that the number of kisses represents the love one feels for another person. Again, Duffy demonstrates her anxiety of her relationship, ‘Nothing my thumbs press will ever be heard’, Duffy does not feel that the words which she sends over texts will ever be said to her loved one due to her lack of confidence. This implies that technology is used as a shield, one that can be hidden behind to save from perhaps embarrassment.

    2) Do you feel empathy or pity for the speaker in the poem ‘Text’?
    I pity for the speaker of ‘Text’ as said in question 1, she takes advantage of 21st century technology, using text messages as a coward’s way of speaking to her beloved. Its seems to me that she is trying to avoid rejection and humiliation from her other half when talking about how she feels. Duffy is childish in the way she talks about her reIationship, ‘we text, text, text’; it is the beginning of the relationship, new feelings have arose and it’s exciting. The use of repetition conveys excitement and breathlessness she feels about this person. However, as a contrast to her immature obsession, ‘image is blurred’ suggests that she cannot see where the relationship is heading, perhaps she cannot realistically picture herself in a relationship. The word ‘blurred’ could also suggest unrequited love. Is this really the start of a relationship or a childish fantasy?

    3) What is your interpretation of the fairytale motif in the poem ‘Forest’? What link is Duffy making between the symbol of the forest and the experience of the speaker? ‘Forest’ is a poem by Carol Ann Duffy about an inexperienced female going into the woods with her lover and coming out experienced; the two females have sex. She is inexperienced when she enters the forest as it is the first time that she has been with another female. The speaker evidently trusts her lover, ‘follow you’; this also shows her lack of experience of sexual intercourse with another female. Proving that the forest has made her experienced the speaker states that her ‘childhood shrank’. The use of a fairytale motif exposes Duffy’s childish views of her new relationship; she idealises love, expecting a happy ending as with most fairytales. As with many fairytales, forests are deemed as dangerous and offer challenges to those who enter, using ‘Forest’ as the title, Duffy immediately provokes thoughts of uncertainty and trust; trust of instincts and trust of her lover.

    4) How does Duffy use nature imagery in this poem? What does it reveal about the speaker’s relationship? Duffy uses images of nature to emphasise the intimacy of the relationship, ‘the moon tossed down its shimmering cloth’, the moon gives the image of a spotlight upon the lovers. Spotlights are sometimes used to mark important moments in a time; this is a big step forward in their relationship, what they are about to do is an extremely significant period in their relationship. It is also significant in each of her live; the speaker has never engaged in sexual activity with another female. Duffy personifies the mood to be maternal towards the lovers; the word ‘cloth’ is extremely reassuring, as if the moon is protecting the couple; as if they want to be kept a secret from everybody else. In the first line Duffy states that ‘there were flowers at the edge of the forest’, this is an inviting and comforting image for both the reader and the speaker. It suggests that they were brightly coloured and very luring to the senses. However, this is contrasted by the flowers at the end of the 3rd stanza, ‘those flowers darkened and closed’, darkening the atmosphere, ‘closed’ suggests insecurity and anxiety of what is about to happen, opposite to the excitement that she first feels when she enters the woods.

    • Mrs Taylor says:

      Great stuff Hattie. Your answer to Q4 is really perceptive and I like your idea about the moon’s ‘spotlight’ identifying the moment as significant; I haven’t considered that before. Very concise and thoughtful writing.

  6. Clarissa says:

    1) What does the poem ‘Text’ reveal about 21st century relationships?
    The language, structure and tone of ‘Text’ reveals the essentially fragile and anxious nature of the start of a modern relationship. The huge role that communication through technology, notably texting, plays in a modern relationship is depicted through Duffy’s dedication of a whole poem to her experiences of the start of a relationship through the medium of texts.
    In many ways, Duffy’s experience of her relationship merely through words is presented as incomplete and even inadequate – there is a similar tone of frustration in the words ‘I try to picture your hands, their image is blurred’ and ‘Nothing my thumbs press will ever be heard’, as Duffy struggles to create a vivid image of her correspondent through the incomplete information. Duffy also presents a modern relationship as having a destructive element through the short, clipped structure of the poem, which connotates the rapid and fleeting nature of modern life and relationships. Whilst historical love poetry such as Shakespeare’s sonnets could use a relatively long length and complex structure to describe the slow pace that a relationship could afford to have, Duffy’s use of a short structure similarly depicts the rushed pace of life and her fears that the fleetingness of their relationship will mean an end to her happiness.
    The language of ‘Text’ reveals Duffy’s state of anxiety as she enters a new relationship, something that seems very common when the relationship is largely developed through texts. The use of the simile of ‘injured bird’ is a destructive and disturbing image of a harmless and seemingly innocent animal in pain, reflecting Duffy’s inner turmoil and the fragility of her emotions, but through the gentle verb ‘tend’ it also seems an expression of how Duffy obsesses and devotes her entire attention to interpreting and over-analysing the texts between herself and her lover. This anxiety is further developed through the image of discordance presented in ‘The codes we send arrive with a broken chord’ – irony is created as the secret codes set up so that the couple can understand each other fail, the result being that the messages are ‘broken’ and even harder to correctly understand, as Duffy constantly worries that she misreads the texts ‘I re-read your first, your second, your third, looking for your small xx’. Arguably, this anxiety is a product of the highly ambiguous nature of texts, as they can be misunderstood, and their shortness means that trivialities, such as ‘your small xx’ are given large significance – in such way a strong element of insecurity and triviality is introduced into a modern relationship.
    The repetition of ‘text’ in the poem can be said to connotate the speaker’s obsession and infatuation with her lover, as all her thoughts constantly lead back to the correspondence they have through text. The repetition also serves to distinguish a modern relationship from a more traditional relationship, in that a modern relationship makes use of technology to communicate, such as texting.
    Duffy reveals a modern relationship as unhealthily defined by anxiety and anticipation of future events and correspondence primarily through her use of language and imagery.

    2) Do you feel empathy or pity for the speaker in the poem ‘Text’?
    I feel more pity than empathy towards the speaker of ‘Text’, primarily for personal reasons – I have not experienced much of the tensions of a new relationship, although I can certainly pity her tumultuous feelings.
    My pity is appealed to most in the poem through the insecurity in the tone of the poem, revealed through the use of dark and disturbing imagery, for example ‘injured bird’.

    3) What is your interpretation of the fairytale motif in the poem ‘Forest’? What link is Duffy making between the symbol of the forest and the experience of the speaker?
    There are many possible contrasting interpretations of the forest motif in ‘forest’, from safety and refuge to the unknown and evil.
    In some ways, the presentation of the forest creates a threatening atmosphere, which links to the speaker’s underlying apprehension about the relationship and her emotions. The trees are personified as ‘sighing, restless’ which connotates passion, but also a more angry and threatening kind of energy, which could be said to link with the historical interpretation of dark forests as places of danger and the unknown.
    The forest could also be said to represent wildness and an escape from civilisation, which could be considered liberating or menacing depending on one’s point of view. Personally, I am inclined to interpret Duffy’s use of the forest motif as a positive sign of her and her lover’s escape from both convention and the scorn of other people’s scrutiny of their lesbian relationship. Forests are also interpreted as being places of safety in many cultures, for example the woods were a place of refuge for Robin Hood in legend, and so could act the same way for Duffy and her lover. The other side of this interpretation is that the woods could be an exile and isolation from society, which presents the couple as outcasts, resulting them in turning to nature for help, which aids them ‘The moon tossed down its shimmering cloth’.
    The experience of the speaker is reflected in the setting of the forest – passionate, dark, but with a protective air – which mirrors the speaker’s own emotions towards her lover.

    4) How does Duffy use nature imagery in this poem? What does it reveal about the speaker’s relationship?
    Duffy uses nature imagery in ‘Forest’ to demonstrate the strength of the speaker’s passion for her lover. Not only does the natural lexis ‘thorns’ ‘loam’ ‘rain’ act as sexual imagery, but the large amount of references to the forest could also suggest that the speaker’s lover has blended with and been absorbed by nature, to the extent where she is omnipotent yet invisible ‘you were the water, the wind’. By associating her lover with powerful natural forces, interaction with which is necessary for sustaining life, the relationship between the speaker and her lover is presented as fully natural and productive (somewhat ironically), and necessary to sustain her happiness – taken literally in the context of the poem, necessary for keeping her alive.
    Additionally, through nature imagery such as ‘dwarfed by the giant trees’ a potentially threatening element is introduced into the tone of the poem – it presents the speaker as still unsure of her emotions and in a vulnerable situation, her partner having much of the power in the relationship. The speaker’s desperate appeal ‘find me’ presents the speaker as unable to control her new and strange emotions, to the extent where she is helpless and pitiable.

    • Mrs Taylor says:

      Some original ideas here Clarissa, well done. I thought your comment about the clipped nature of the structure of Text (and the text message format itself) could reflect/define the fleeting nature of the mdoern relationship. I also liked your handling of the forst motif and your conclusion that the forests represented a refuge and sanctuary away from public scrutiny. A fantastic start to the poetry.

  7. Freya says:

    (Answers 3&4, 1&2 on another computer, to be uploaded later)
    3) What is your interpretation of the fairytale motif in the poem ‘Forest’? What link is Duffy making between the symbol of the forest and the experience of the speaker?
    In fairytales their naïve young protagonists can have various experiences of forests, which are all, to some extent, expressed in the poem ‘Forest’. The less obvious role of a forest in a fairytale is that of protector, as seen in stories such as Snow White, where the forest is a place of refuge from the horrors of the outer world- being poisoned by a menopausal step-mother. The second role of a forest is that of a place where innocence enters and experience returns, and we know that Duffy has explored this idea of the forest in her poem ‘Little Red Cap’ where a young girl “sweet sixteen, never been” develops a sexual relationship with the fairytale wolf “I clung till dawn to his thrashing fur”, staying for ten years before murdering the wolf and returning to the real world. This paradoxical, dual nature of the forest is explored by Duffy in ‘Forest’ as the speaker is both finding beauty and solace in the forest, and a sense of a loss of innocence, although of course these two natures are not paradoxical within a sexual relationship. Loss of innocence: “my whole life vanished”, “even my childhood shrank”, “kissed, kissed”, “_entire fourth stanza_”.
    Fairytales also present forests as somewhat magical, often having a mind of their own, able to choose whether to trap and confuse a lost traveller or send a prince into the arms of a misplaced princess. This magical nature may partly be because of the nature of a forest as a ‘climax community’ (a technical term perhaps appropriate to this poem) as the highest state of ecological succession, where all life forms reach equilibrium. In more simple terms, oak forest is the most lush and abundant landscape in Britain. In history wolves and wild boar would be found in these forests, and so they had an air of danger and of mystery to them that we rarely would think today. Medieval forests, where most fairytales first originate from, would be terrifying places with all sorts of animals, no light, no paths or tracks and the penetrable areas would be inhabited by thieves and outlaws. All this goes so far as to as a metaphor for the way relationships can be so exciting in their unpredictability but also somewhat frightening, and awful things could happen with no warning. The poem finishes on this note, “I am there now, lost in the forest. Dwarfed by the giant trees…” Which suggests in its change of tense from past to present that the speaker is still caught up in the relationship, and it’s negative side, without the lover being there. Without the lover the relationship cannot exist, but the speaker remains stuck in it, bewildered, as is still asking questions about how they came to be separate. The last words, a short statement, are a whimper of desperation “Find me.” The beauty and solace of the forest has been replaced with that of desolation and desperation, and the innocence most gone and irrevocable.
    4) How does Duffy use nature imagery in this poem? What does it reveal about the speaker’s relationship?
    Duffy’s use of nature imagery suggests that their relationship is almost elemental, a force of nature, and is therefore highly powerful. Her lover especially has this elemental power, as the dominant partner in the relationship while the speaker is the more vulnerable, “You were the water, the wind {…} the heavy wet perfume of soil.” The more subtle metaphors of nature suggest a kind of beauty to their relationship, that in being at one with nature they are as the world intended them to be, created as a part of creation. This may possibly used so extensively to challenge the idea of same-sex relationships as ‘unnatural’ by some people; these lovers are the very opposite, entwined with nature. As women, Duffy may be playing on the idea of Mother Earth to strengthen this. Lines one and two of the third stanza are highly sexual, “Thorns on my breasts, rain in my mouth…” but the speaker seems to be having more contact with the surrounding nature than with the lover. Perhaps, knowing Duffy is hardly coy, this may be a further personification of the forest as her lover- unless she simply finds twigs quite raunchy, you never know.
    Nature imagery “trees”, “moon”, “thorns”, “rain”, “bark”, “flowers”, “petals” work well as a symbol of imperfect, non-idealistic love. Humans commonly associate nature with beauty simply for being natural, therefore the symbol of the relationship as a forest can be immediately beautiful without the saccharine clichés of love being like jewels or roses etc. Of course there is some idealised imagery “last of the light in their upturned petals”, “moon tossed down its shimmering cloth”, but this is tempered with “rough bark,” “heavy wet perfume of soil.”

    • Mrs Taylor says:

      This is superb Freya; you have written with such flair and enthusiasm for the poetry and context. Your exploration of the forest and fairytale image is detailed and subtle which shows real A* potential. Well done.

  8. Duce Mazumder says:

    What does ‘Text’ reveal about 21st Century relationships?

    21st Century relationships these days rely on technology, and sometimes communication between couples solely depends on mobile phones and the internet. Duffy expresses that she “looks for your small xx”, which couples of this generation may be able to relate to. This is revealing how people perceive something as irrelevant as ‘xx’ in a text, as something that may define their whole relationship, the line “our significant words” emphasizes this, as it depicts how the speaker in ‘Text’ thinks that their messages are somewhat substantial. The irony of this is that the texts are probably not significant at all.
    Nowadays, as texts are increasingly used as a method of communication, people tend to over analyze their texts, and as Duffy writes, “I re-read your first, your second, your third,” the agonizing tone to this stanza shows the typical infatuated search for a hidden meaning beneath the texts. Furthermore, the phrase “feeling absurd” outlines the desperation and insecurity, as if there is something very subtle concealed within the words in the text.

    Do you feel empathy or pity for the speaker in ‘Text’?

    I feel more pitiful towards the speaker than empathic, as there is a clear tone of desperation to the poem – which is accentuated by the anguished mood of the phrase “feeling absurd” – perhaps this is trying to show how the speaker is almost clinging onto the texts, trying to decipher whether her feelings are unrequited or not. As a result of this, I almost feeling sorry for the speaker, as her insecurity and infatuation is, in my opinion, almost pathetic.

    What is your interpretation of the fairytale motif in the poem ‘Forest’? What link is Duffy making between the symbol of the forest and the experience of the speaker?

    Most people would probably associate fairytales with romanticism, magic and happiness – and one interpretation of the fairytale motif throughout this poem is that Carol Ann Duffy is possibly idealizing love, and trying to indicate how magical and enchanting it is, this is portrayed by the entrancing imagery of the “shimmering cloth” and the “gowns of the moon”, which is heightening the mystical aspect to the poem. The usage of the fairytale motif universalizes the experience so readers can relate to it. In addition, as fairytales have the obstacles and hardships before the clichéd happy ending, maybe the speaker is trying to suggest that she wants a happy ending to her relationship, after overcoming all the problems.
    Fairytales frequently use forests to portray a loss of innocence, some readers may interpret the metaphor of the forest as something dark and sinister, which is highlighted by the murky imagery of the flowers, which “darkened and closed”. The speaker could be leaving her past behind to follow her lover, “even my childhood shrank” – which supports the ideology that forests represent the loss of innocence – or perhaps, childhood.

    How does Duffy use nature imagery in this poem? What does it reveal about the speaker’s relationship?

    The nature imagery used in ‘Forest’ conveys the passion, and the intensity within the poem. The tone is gentle and romantic, which is depicted by the beautiful, luminant imagery of the moonlight, “gowns of the moon”, “the moon tossed down it’s shimmering cloth”, the repeated use of personification demonstrates how the nature is animated. However, there is a sinister undertone to the calm, sensuality of the poem as the aggressive sibilance of the phrase “sighing, restless trees” gives the impression that things are not peaceful. This is further established by the menacing imagery of the speaker being “dwarfed by the giant trees” – Duffy uses the word “dwarfed” which could suggest the speaker perhaps feeling small, or scared. The vulnerability is already constructed in the previous stanzas, “I followed you in…” which proposes that there is a lack of equality between the speaker and their lover.
    The physical intimacy between the two lovers is explored through the naturalistic imagery, “thorns on my breasts”, “rain in my mouth”, “rough bark grazing my back” – the graphic erotic imagery in this stanza gives a sense of wildness, and suggesting how they are so entwined in each other’s embrace – both physically and mentally – that the speaker doesn’t bother acknowledging the rough matter on the ground.

    • Mrs Taylor says:

      A really effective, concise piece of analysis Duce which shows effortless assimilation of ideas from class discussion – well done. Given your high level ability, your next step will be to develop a more convincingly evaluation of the effectiveness of the poems. A really good start.

  9. Leonie says:

    1) What does the poem ‘Text’ reveal about 21st century relationships?
    The poem highlights the vast change which has taken place in the forming of relationships since the beginning of this electronically powered media age. The attempt to decipher body language is lost as Duffy writes ‘I try to picture your hands, their image is blurred’ as she can’t quite get a full image of the woman behind the technology. The phone is identified as the closest she can get to something more external made clear through the simile ‘I tend the mobile now like an injured bird’ presenting a vulnerability as this fragile image is evoked as well as through the conveyed feelings of loss. This despair is extended through to the final stanza ‘nothing my thumbs press will ever be heard’, as the arriving ‘broken chord’ of the message can never be a full substitute for the human voice which shall remain unheard. The 21st century relationship, which often begins through the medium of text is not presented as wholly negative as the words are described as ‘significant’. These words can be re-read and altered until perfect, taking away the defects that arise through face-to-face speech but alternatively causing an obsession as phrases are over-analysed in a way which could not occur through verbal communication.

    2) Do you feel empathy or pity for the speaker in the poem ‘Text’?
    The speaker in ‘Text’ I both pity and empathise as I feel what she discusses is both relatable and shameful. I pity her as this is an experience she would not be alone in having but it is seen as an unmentionable topic and an unhealthy obsession to an outsider. The child-like repetition of ‘we text, text, text’ presents this growing obsession as well as her breathless excitement shown through the exasperated /t/ sounds. This makes it more difficult to pity the speaker as she personally doesn’t intend to be pitied and either way would be oblivious to anyone else’s feelings towards her in her current emotional state. The fragility in the poem especially shown through the simile of the ‘injured bird’ allows me as the reader to feel Duffy has issued a deep insight in to her heart and mind so it would be a betrayal of this position not to empathise and try to understand her situation further.

    3) What is your interpretation of the fairytale motif in the poem ‘Forest’? What link is Duffy making between the symbol of the forest and the experience of the speaker?
    Duffy utilises the fairy-tale motif of the forest in the poem to represent the transition from innocence to experience. This is apt as the speaker begins the poem feeling anxious along with the personified trees which reflect her thoughts as they are ‘sighing’ and ‘restless’. She plays on the mysterious element of a forest as they cast long shadows and are essential in providing camouflage, presenting a more sinister view of the background. The speaker herself realises the life-altering event she has undergone as she draws attention to this loss of youth, ‘even my childhood shrank’ and finally ‘I am there now’ showing she has reaching her final destination and there is no going back to a time where she was innocent. In the first stanza she states ‘I followed you in’ as this is not a journey she could manage on her own and highlights her deep trust in the leader. The tall trees which make up a forest have frequently been identified with the elements of courage. This is an attribute the speaker must have had to make the first step into experience with her lover who can be seen as a form of stability due to the image of grounded trees being invoked upon the reader.

    4) How does Duffy use nature imagery in this poem? What does it reveal about the speaker’s relationship?
    Duffy uses a vast range of nature imagery in ‘Forest’ as representations of her feelings. The moon is heavily personified in stanza two to create a magical tone in that the lovers do not need clothing as the moon provides this with it’s great light amongst the darkness as shown through the adjective ‘shimmering’ evoking a sensual image in which their bodies sparkle in the moonlight as if they are clothed.
    The flowers are used to symbolise a change in the speakers thoughts as in the first stanza they are ‘cupping the last of the light in their upturned petals’ as they are shown to be full and complete as they bathe in the light, perhaps representing the speakers youth as flowers are often used to symbolise childhood. In the final line of stanza three ‘those flowers darkened and closed’ shows how her thoughts have darkened as well as representing her inability to return to this previous innocence.

    • Mrs Taylor says:

      What strikes me most with your answer Leonie is your beautiful expression – this is eloquent, incisive writing. Very pleasing and good to see writing at A2 level already. .

  10. Jenny says:

    1) What does the poem ‘Text’ reveal about 21st century relationships?
    Throughout the poem there are hints of longing for a simpler form of communication. This is conveyed through the presentation of electrical communication as a flawed reflection of traditional methods; ‘injured bird’ arguably relates to the messenger pigeon system, while ‘broken chord’ could reflect the tenuous connection between speaker and receiver. This serves to present 21st century relationships as incomplete; lacking in originality and emotion.

    Having met the concept of texting as an adult, Duffy is able to recognise and articulate the insecurities created within her own mind by 21st century communication, which many others would overlook, ‘I re-read your first,/ your second, your third’. It also allows a use of irony; she refers to her conversations as ‘significant words’ whilst knowing that simultaneously thousands of other similar texts were being sent around the world.

    The repetitive, uniform lines of the poem imply the question and answer format of a generic conversation. This suggests that these insecurities are not specific to their relationship, but are instead a flaw of 21st century communication. This is highlighted by juxtaposition of images as the speaker attempts unsuccessfully to force conventional emotions on to the electrical communication; ‘I try to picture your hands, their image is blurred.’ While this openly presents their relationship as less vivid, the speaker seems undecided as to whether it is less valid.

    2) Do you feel empathy or pity for the speaker in the poem ‘Text’?

    The poem seems to be written as catharsis; Duffy could be using the expressive medium of poetry to voice the emotions which can’t be conveyed over the mechanical communication of text. ‘Text’ therefore evokes empathy by commenting on a common but often unmentioned experience; many current readers will be able to relate to anxiously awaiting texts. However this speaker’s anxiousness seems so great that it has resulted in almost infatuation, revealed by the obsessive repetition; ‘we text, text, text’ which will provoke more pity than empathy.

    Furthermore, the speaker is presented as isolated, despite being continuously contactable, ‘nothing my thumbs press will ever be heard.’ This furthered through the negative semantic field; ‘injured’ ‘absurd’ ‘broken,’ encouraging the reader to pity the speaker.

    However the response to this poem definitely depends on the reader. Those without mobile phones would be perhaps more inclined to pity the speaker, similarly, those who had grown up with the technology would perhaps find it less unsettling, and therefore would also be unable to empathise. However, Duffy seems to be writing to a target audience of those who still perceive mobile phones as slightly disconcerting but, like the speaker, are too absorbed to stop. The opening line ‘I tend the mobile now’ depicts an instinctive, dedicated, animalistic gesture which may trouble many readers as they recognise themselves.

    3) What is your interpretation of the fairytale motif in the poem ‘Forest’? What link is Duffy making between the symbol of the forest and the experience of the speaker?

    The fairytale setting of ‘Forest’ instantly universalises the messages in the poem by reducing all emotion to good and evil. This is furthered by the use of polar opposites, ‘light’ ‘darkened’; ‘dwarfed’ ‘giant’ which tends to enable plural interpretations as it could be related to many different situations by many different readers.

    The forest could symbolise the transgression to adulthood, ‘even my childhood shrank’; the poem would therefore be a celebration of starting the next stage of the speaker’s life. On the other hand, the use of fairytale imagery, could be seen as idealising love; ‘you were the water, the wind’ which conveys a naive outlook on life, potentially recognised by Duffy when writing the collection in hindsight.

    In my opinion, there’s an element of fate in this poem; the speaker seems to be controlled by an external power; ‘I followed you in’ ‘follow you still’ ‘pulling me in’. Even the moon has power over her; when it ‘tossed down its shimmering cloth’; it seems to be a gesture of approval towards the couple. This reveals the speaker’s mind is searching for a sign of permission from the land around her, creating an insecure tone which is heightened by the use of the rhetorical question ‘Didn’t we?’ This is perhaps one of the reasons for setting the poem in a fairytale landscape; to try and seek comfort from a familiar image by relating the feeling of when ‘my whole life vanished’ to being ‘lost in the forest.’ Therefore, although clichéd, the use of the supernatural is successful in this poem as it conveys the anticipation and nervousness of the speaker.
    4) How does Duffy use nature imagery in this poem? What does it reveal about the speaker’s relationship?

    The sibilance extended throughout the poem creates an auditory image of the leaves on the trees rustling in the wind, ‘sighing, restless trees’. The description of the forest is then made more vivid by the use of personification, ‘the branches, wringing their hands’. Although Trees are often personified, Duffy projects unusual emotions onto them; instead of being threatening to the speaker, as is often the case, the trees seem to mirror her anxious emotions.
    However emotions are suggested for more than just the trees, such as ‘upturned petals’, ‘gowns of the moon’, ‘heavy, wet perfume of soil’. This presents the forest as a continual presence to guide her path, suggesting the speaker believes her relationship is inevitable and predestined. The reoccurring image of ‘those flowers’ arguably depict her last links to childhood, they were ‘at the edge of the forest’ as if too frightened to enter and the description of them ‘cupping the last of the light’ sounds like a selfish yet ineffective action. This could be a sign of immaturity which the speaker overcomes this as ‘those flowers darkened and closed.’
    Overall, nature seems to play a key role in this poem, it is an invisible yet powerful force and the speaker seems to be trying to follow the path it creates.

    • Mrs Taylor says:

      I love the originality of your answer to Q1 – your analysis of modern communication and the poem is refreshing and insightful. Your Q2 answer mentions the collection’s cathartic function which is interesting as this becomes apparent in the final poems of the collection; it is clever to notice its presence even in this early poem – well done. An exciting first response to the collection Jenny showing craft and imagination.

  11. Freya says:

    (Continuing from questions 3&4)

    1) What does the poem ‘Text’ reveal about 21st century relationships?
    ‘Text’ reveals the constant uncertainty and doubt that technology can impose on modern relationships. It isn’t a matter of finding stolen moment to call or meet up with the person, with modern technology you could be in 24 hour conversation with the other, so whenever you aren’t talking you have made the active decision not to be, but if you were to talk non-stop it would look pathetic and needy, as if you were trying to dominate the other’s life. Further than the comparatively simple worries of just whether you are being texted or not, the content of texts can be pored over, compared to all past, give a standard for those future, and can be kept forever. As is described by Duffy as ‘codes’, all relationships speak their own, quite self-conscious, language i.e. some people send thousands of kisses and some would find that nauseating, so any variation in this is conspicuous and often obsessively thought-over- especially for the more demonstrative, dependant, vulnerable member of the relationship, as Duffy is. This variation in text language and the angst that can be caused is further conveyed in the guttural repetitive /k/ in ‘codes’ ‘broken chord’.
    Another worry for modern relationships in text is the paradox of love recorded but not fully real. A text is memento of the other person’s affection, and therefore may seem very important to the receiver, but texts are still thought of as superficial expressions of emotion, very short, without intonation, often abbreviated beyond any beauty of expression. Duffy allude to this lack of reality in ‘try to picture your hands, their image is blurred’, as no matter how obsessed over a text is, it does not bring the person visually in front of you. The lines ‘nothing my thumbs press will ever be heard’ further stresses the unreality of the communication, it is not spoke/ heard speech. The superficiality is also conveyed in the ambiguous phrase ‘significant terms’, where she appears to be being ironic, saying that they arent really important, even though they do actually feel so to her.

    2) Do you feel empathy or pity for the speaker in the poem ‘Text’?
    I think that many of the feelings conveyed by Duffy in Text are highly relatable for people in relationships today, and they can identify with the angst, neuroses and obsession of constant, trivial communication. However, as Duffy portrays her emotions in slightly pathetic terms ‘injured bird’, ‘absurd’ the overall emotion is one of sympathetic pity. The emotions are so relatable that the reader does not develop revulsion in their pity, but they neither have admiration for Duffy being the strong one in the relationship.

  12. Francesca Phillips says:

    1) What does the poem ‘Text’ reveal about 21st century relationships?
    The poem ‘Text’ by Carol Anne Duffy is very obviously modern. The mobile phone, as the means of communication, is noticeably distant as opposed to a conversation or phone call. Duffy uses this to emphasise the unfamiliarity of in a new relationship, especially a lesbian one – where ‘the norm’ is much less commonly defined and is new to her. The ‘small xx, Duffy describes is a custom only recently arisen with the common usage of mobile phones. The way she depends upon this small symbol is ‘absurd’, ridiculous, to the onlooker – however is the only sign of affection that can be conveyed through the cold text and is therefore, so integral to the communication. Duffy portrays a 21st century relationship with very little dignity. Through the theme of ‘broken chord’s she shows how frustrating deciphering the meaning of a text and the emotion behind it is. Yet against this, the imagery of ‘injured bird’ is her almost desperate need to protect and nurture her relationship through this link of texting. Here is a demeaning paradox where the insecure texter is both exposed and vulnerable.
    2) Do you feel empathy or pity for the speaker in the poem ‘Text’?
    The reader can feel empathy for the speaker in ‘Text’ as much as all humans strive to be accepted and understand one another. As Janet Lewison said, the age of obsessional texting has ‘escalated the dread of rejection’. Where Duffy writes ‘I try to picture your hands’ she shows the speaker to long for the true opinion and feelings of her correspondent. To look at herself from Jackie-kays eyes and find reassurance. This is emphasised by the metaphor of texts as ‘codes’- the speakers insecurity twists obvious conversation into different meanings as it analyses the messages. The speaker only knows the strength of her own feelings and the desperate re-reading of messages is a search for reciprocation before Duffy lays her heart on the line and is humiliated. This part of the poem is where I feel pity for the speaker. The poem is very one-sided -the first person creating a very confessional tone. The repetition of ‘text, text, text’ is perpetual and almost torturing; this with the image of an ‘injured bird’ creates a tone of anxiety. ‘Significant words’ is pitifully ironic, as the words are only significant to her due to the strength of her emotion. Finally, the last couplet where Duffy states nothing she writes will ever be heard, is tragic. The negative, self-depreciating ending shows her lack of self-worth and sets an ominous tone for the relationship and sequence of poems.
    3) What is your interpretation of the fairy-tale motif in the poem ‘Forest’? What link is Duffy making between the symbol of the forest and the experience of the speaker? AND
    4) How does Duffy use nature imagery in this poem? What does it reveal about the speaker’s relationship?

    The fairy-tale motif creates a very dream-like scene and helps to present a very surreal experience. Everything is emphasized, the ‘shimmering cloth’ and ‘perfume of soil’. The personification of the forest, ‘restless trees’ shows her awareness of the life all around her and shows how her senses are heightened and sharp. Life seems more vivid, and she more alive. The poem begins like a story, ‘there were…’ . This sets a tone of escapism, emphasised as she writes ‘my whole life vanished’ and ‘my childhood shrank’. She tells a story of a place and experience which rises above the mundaneness of ordinary life. The location of the forest is timeless, as is true love and happiness – a constant through the ages of humanity. This makes the poem seem more instinctive, naturalistic – as opposed to the uncertain and broken poem ‘text’. There are many earthy nouns, ‘flowers’, ‘petals’, ‘trees’, ‘leaves’, ‘loam’, ‘water’, ‘wind’ and ‘soil’. Every image here is associated with freshness and health. This conveys a sense of vitality, both physically and mentally the speaker is at her peak, her happiest. Furthermore this poem has a feel of discovery. Fairy-tales are normally read to children by their parents. Duffy makes herself young and naïve again, led into the trees and into the water by her partner and learns to swim. This tone of undiscovered territory is shown where she writes, ‘new words rustled by’. This line has beautiful sibilance and subtlety; metaphorically she is learning to speak a new language, a new vocabulary that is foreign to her and in doing so finds a language so far superior to all previous words. She finds a relationship so euphoric compared to real life, we see the beauty reflected in her poetry.

  13. Anna says:

    1) What does the poem ‘Text’ reveals about 21st century relationships?
    The mechanical, rigid structure of ‘Text’ lacks freedom or spontaneity which mirrors the mediated and overthought nature of using modern technology. Duffy comments on the use of ‘codes’ which ironically only leads to confusion and insecurity when they arrive ‘with a broken chord.’ Through the triple repetition of the ‘text, text, text’ and ‘re-read your first, your second, your third’ Duffy reveals how modern technology has encouraged her obsession, and reveals that through ‘Text’ her relationship is developed a sense of fragility and insecurity. This is echoed by the simile of ‘injured bird’ which connotates images of pain, suffering and above all vulnerability -none of which would suggest a healthy beginning to a relationship. Duffy further develops how, through technology, 21st relationships have become more detached and therefore resulting in feelings of frustration and isolation. This is demonstrated through ‘I try to picture your hands, the image is blurred.’ This is reiterated through the harsh consonant sounds in the words ‘image’ and ‘picture’ which reflect the bitterness Duffy feels as she struggle to remember what the object of her love actually looks like. Here 21st century relationships are, by Duffy, revealed almost to be tragic, she explores how by the use of technology we have lost the need to interact face to face and therefore have built unnatural barriers between one another.
    2) Do you feel empathy or pity for the speaker in the poem ‘Text’?
    Both. To a degree I empathise with the sense of detachment or insecurity which can result from a misinterpretation of somebody’s texts; however, the level of obsession which Duffy reaches makes me a little uncomfortable, and I pity the overwhelming sense of discontentment and desperation that Duffy reveals that she has felt. Perhaps I would not feel such pity or even slight repulsion if it were not evident that Duffy is clearly aware of the obsessive and undignified way she is acting through the phrase ‘feeling absurd.’ I cannot empathise or sympathise with the self-centred motifs in text, for me it’s a little too ‘1st world problem.’ Whilst Duffy’s other poems seem to have depth and gravity being anchored on nature or didactic myths, the superficiality of the subject matter of ‘Text’ leaves me detached from the poem and the speaker and unable to fully feel connected to her suffering.
    (Oops, just re-read it – maybe a bit too critical answer??)
    3) What is your interpretation of the fairytale motif in the poem ‘Forest’? What link is Duffy making between the symbol of the forest and the experience of the speaker?
    The fairy-tale elements in the poem ‘Forest’ allows the experience of the reader to be removed from the ordinary, restricted limits of everyday life and opens up instead ‘place of opportunity and transformation,’ Duffy, therefore creates a setting in which emotions and imagination can become tangible to the reader, on entering the forest the speaker overcomes the ‘boundary of civilisation.’ Whilst I feel that the setting is important, it is in fact the journey embarked on by the speaker which is the most significant. Often in fairy-tales straying from the path often leads to peril however for the speaker it offers the opportunity for personal growth and exploration. It could be interpreted that each stanza represents the transcendence of the speaker from innocence to experience. The variation on the repetition ‘I followed you in’, ‘go deeper into the wood and follow you still’, ‘pulling me in’ portrays the trust between the lovers whist also conveying the inequality between them , the innocence of the speaker is contrasted to the dominance of her lover. This works simultaneously with the personal journey being undertaken by the speaker, the loss of self is portrayed in a positive light and is emphasised in the opening stanza ‘my whole life vanished.’ The poem reaches a pivotal point when the speaker choses to enter deeper into the generically sinister fairy-tale forest, resulting in the lost of her innocence. This is symbolised by the naturalistic imagery of her ‘childhood’ shrinking to a ‘glow worm of light.’
    4) How does Duffy use nature imagery in this poem? What does it reveal about the speaker’s relationship?
    The mystical personification of the ‘moon tossed down its shimmering cloth’ animates the environment, creating a symbiotic relationship between both the lovers, and the personification nature. Personification is also used to create a more nervous and tense atmosphere which ties in with the use of the sibilance in ‘sighing, restless trees.’ The long gentle vowel sound, compliment the repeated sibilance creating an unstable, yet exciting atmosphere in which the boundaries of possibility are stretched and thus conveying to the reader the lack of control of the speaker, and revealing the impulsive nature of their experience. The word ‘sighing’ is highly sensual and foreshadows the intensity and intimacy late experienced. The naturalistic metaphorical ‘you were the water, the wind’ again, further interweaves people and nature, by representing her lover by these elements, Duffy suggests that she believes that her subversive relationship is natural and right. The elemental lexis used also emphasises the power of the dominant partner over the speaker who in contrast is seem to be juvenile and innocent in only just learning to swim – ‘pulling me in, so I swam. ’

  14. Katy and Sabrina says:

    3) What is your interpretation of the fairytale motif in the poem ‘Forest’? What link is Duffy making between the symbol of the forest and the experience of the speaker?

    I think the fairytale motif in “Forest” gives the poem a mystical quality, and makes it seem more romantic and portrays an idillic scene. Duffy writes “dressed again in the gowns of the moon” which creates the imagery of her and her lover bathing in moonlight, setting a passionate scene. “The moon tossed down its shimmering cloth” sounds casual and almost enchanting as its possibly real, underlying love between Duffy and her partner. The idea of Duffy being “dwarfed by giant trees” suggests she feels intimidated by her surroundings and creates the idea of her being lost in the forest, just like Snow White and Little Red Riding Hood. It appears as though Duffy has manipulated the weather to reflect her perfect time with her partner and almost becomes one with nature. Duffy goes into the Forest inoscent and perhaps timid, but re-emerges experienced and confident, not just about herself but also about her relationship.

    Katy and Sabrina

  15. Luca Hoare says:

    3) What is your interpretation of the fairytale motif in the poem ‘Forest’? What link is Duffy making between the symbol of the forest and the experience of the speaker?
    Duffy uses mythical imagery to cause her lover in ‘Forest’ to seem more perfect and idyllic. The imagery ‘gowns of the moon’ is an example of this, putting across a dignified tone which is still natural. It causes the scene to be almost magical and adds an element of secrecy. Fairytales often end happily; therefore the reader initially expects Duffy’s relationship to be positive. The fairytale motif also gives the poem a more dramatically romantic feel.
    However, Duffy’s doubt causes the mythical imagery to have a more negative impact on the reader. ‘Didn’t we?’ portrays this clearly. Initially the fairytale images added a romantic tone, but this question causes the motif to change in meaning; the vision of her lover is now something unattainable, which may be far from what is real.
    The fairytale motif causes the reader to link ‘Forest’ to fairytales which involve woods. Examples of these are Red Riding Hood and Snow White, both which involve girls going into forests and becoming lost in another land. This is obviously shown in the line ‘lost in the forest, dwarfed by the giant trees’. This imagery has links to Snow White, as well as conveying a child-like emotion through the use of scale of size.
    4) How does Duffy use nature imagery in this poem? What does it reveal about the speaker’s relationship?
    The extended metaphor of flowers used by Duffy reveals her growing trust at the start of the poem when they are ‘upturned’. However, the ‘last of the light’ has a possibly negative undercurrent, and some readers may see this as Duffy attempting to hold onto the past. Her all-consuming love then causes the flowers to be ‘darkened and closed’. This portrays that Duffy has lost everything else that matters in her life, including her past. The loss of light gives an ominous tone. This could show Duffy becoming lost in her relationship.
    This feeling of lost is further shown through nature. The phrase ‘giant trees’ causes Duffy to seem unable to escape. She is now insignificant compared to the world around her. This could reveal her partner’s power over her, or that she is completely consumed by her love.

  16. Genevieve says:

    3) What is your interpretation of the fairytale motif in the poem ‘Forest’? What link is Duffy making between the symbol of the forest and the experience of the speaker?

    The fairytale aspect in ‘Forest’ allows for a range of interpretations from different readers, with forests being often used to symbolise places of opportunity and transformation, but also places that can be used to hide dangerous magic. By using ambiguous symbolism, Duffy is showing the reader she is unsure of the effect this experience has had on her, which is reinforced by the hesitant “Didn’t we?” at the start of the third stanza. Furthermore, forests are also used to symbolise the wilderness of the unconscious, so by naming herself “lost in the forest” the poet is suggesting she does not yet know herself, and by ending with the mischievous “Find me” Duffy conveys the image that her lover will be the one to help her emerge from this wilderness with a more highly developed humanity. The childlike link with fairytales underlies the whole poem, with the transition to becoming an adult being particularly evident when Duffy states “my childhood shrank.”

  17. Elana says:

    4) How does Duffy use nature imagery in this poem? What does it reveal about the speaker’s relationship?
    Duffy uses natural imagery in ‘Forest’ to reflect the nature of the relationship between the two lovers. The impact of using natural imagery creates an immediate foundation for perception in the reader’s mind, with connotations of growth, unpredictability and wilderness.

  18. Sophie May says:

    What is your interpretation of the fairytale motif in the poem ‘Forest’? What link is Duffy making between the symbol of the forest and the experience of the speaker?

    There is an extended metaphor throughout ‘Forest’ by Carol Ann Duffy which represents the loss of innocence. The stereotypical fairytale image of woodland/ forest creates a rather sinister and dark tone as the image is often associated with stories of young girls taken into the woods to be corrupted. For example, in snow white. ‘into the woods and follow you still,’.
    Although Duffy uses the fairytale imagery to suggest corruption, there are juxtaposing ideas that are sensual. ‘then dressed again in the gowns of the moon’. The figurative use of the moonlight suggests that nature is working with the couple to enhance the beauty of the relationship. Everything is glittering, as is the sexual relationship.
    Finally, there is a sense of dominance on the partners behalf throughout the poem. ‘pulling me in’. This connotates that the focaliser is looking for a gesture of approval from her partner, a guidance, forming an tone of insecurity which is further enhanced by the use of the rhetorical questions. ‘Didn’t we?’ The anxeity shown through the use of rhetorical question can portray that the focaliser herself is questioning the reliability of her memory. Did this actually happen? Was it this magical? Do you feel the same way? This could also have links to fairytales as the emotions shown are emotions that are frequently used to create suspense, such as, vulnerability and uncertainty.

  19. bethan says:

    What does the poem ‘Text’ reveal about 21st century relationships?
    The poem “Text” reveals much of 21st century relationships. “re-read” indicates an obsessive and possibly one-sided relationship. “small xx” also shows how modern lovers obsess over what ought to be insignificant details due to advances in technology. It seems that Duffy deliberates over minor details due to the intense feelings she has towards them. “nothing my thumbs press will ever be heard” suggests a barrier between lovers caused by technology. The reader sense frustration in the speaker.
    2) Do you feel empathy or pity for the speaker in the poem ‘Text’?
    “broken chord” shows disappointment associated with an unwanted reply or total lack of. An auditory image is created of a cheap ring tone which incites pain in the reader. This causes me to feel empathy for the speaker. Duffy clearly misses the tone of human voice and finds this love claustrophobic and suffocating. “image is blurred” shows she feels that technology creates a barrier, meaning that without body language and intonation emotional messages are unclear which is challenging. This makes me pity the speaker.
    3) What is your interpretation of the fairytale motif in the poem ‘Forest’? What link is Duffy making between the symbol of the forest and the experience of the speaker?
    The fairy tale motif is idealized, but used cleverly I believe. Duffy is using this cliché to symbolise her transition from innocence to experience. It is a universally recognizable journey which readers can easily associate with. The forest is an escape for Duffy, which concurs with her time with her lover. She feels freedom and ecstasy when in love so an appropriate scene would be a fairytale forest of dreams, happiness and expectations. I do think this is a bit over cliché, and decide that Duffy is being slightly cynical, hinting at a not so happy ending. The “moon tossed down its shimmering cloth” shows nature being approving and welcoming. This shows how overwhelmed Duffy was during this sexual experience as she views the whole surroundings, including her lover as one entity, increasing the intensity of the experience.
    4) How does Duffy use nature imagery in this poem? What does it reveal about the speaker’s relationship?
    “flowers at the edge of the forest” shows the speaker anticipating lust. It creates the image of a lover being tempted into the forest. “sighing, restless trees” signifies anxiety in the speaker. The setting is romantic but shady. “into the woods” connotes privacy and therefore intimacy. The closeness of the lovers is intensified by the use of nature. “Thorns on my breasts” identifies the fine line between pleasure and pain, demonstrating a feeling of intense pleasure. “Rain in my mouth, loam on my bare feet” are highly sensual images. Duffy personifies and embodies the whole scene into the experience, showing how infinitely free she feels when with her lover. The sexual imagery “bark grazing my back” and “I moaned for them all” intensify the passion Duffy feels, revealing the intensity of her love she writes of. “waist deep, in a stream, pulling me in” shows how love overwhelms the speaker. Describing the surroundings as powerful indicates how intense the intimacy with her lover must be. Duffy feels insignificant compared to the vastness of her love shown when she is “dwarfed by the giant trees”.

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