'Beachcomber and First Love' Compare and Contrast.


'Beachcomber and First Love' Compare and Contrast.


  • Both personas are reflecting on the past which appears vividly clear to them, 'I speak your name, after a silence of years, into the pillow, and the power of your name brings me here to the window, naked, to say it again to a garden shaking with light.' The syndetic listing conveys the struggle of remembering the persona's first relationship. The metaphor, 'after a silence of years, into the pillow,' depicts that it never used to have a infliction on the persona but now it is all coming back. The adjective, 'naked' gives connotations of vulnerability and the material verb, 'shaking' with noun, 'light' suggests hope. Maybe, the persona seeks to revisit the past. The plosive sound of the abstract noun, 'power' highlights the intensity of the memory. Similarly, within Beachcomber, 'the child, and not in sepia, lives, you can see her:'  and 'bucket and spade.' The definite article, 'the' adds significance towards this child who the persona is remembering. Duffy does not give away who this may or not be. The common 'sepia' meaning a monochrome photograph reiterates how a single object can immortalise youth. The persona's memory is remembering it as if she is standing there. The collocation of 'bucket and spade' again demonstrates how the persona is able to draw out details.
  • There is a theme of innocence threaded through the poems, in First Love, 'This was a child's love.' and 'All day I will glimpse at it, in windows of changing sky, in mirrors (...)' The positive modal shading, 'This was a child's love.' demonstrates that the persona's past relationship was naïve and harmless by connotations of the noun, 'child.' The material verb, 'glimpse' and 'changing' portray how the persona is acting ingenuous, knowing that there really is no point looking towards the past when time has progressed on linking towards the theme. In Beachcomber, 'The girl suddenly holding a conch, listening, sssh.' The adverb, 'suddenly' displays interest, something a child has when curious. The onomatopoeia of, 'sssh' demonstrates that theme of innocence. 'In her bucket, a starfish, seaweed, a dozen, alarming crabs,' The listing here again potraying how oblivious, pure and wide-eyed a child can be.
  • Both personas demonstrate acceptance of knowing the past cannot intervene no longer with the present, 'Unseen flowers suddenly pierce and sweeten the air.' The juxtaposition here suggests a bittersweet ending, the persona is accepting that it is over and however sad that is, there is valuable happy memories involved there. In Beachcomber, 'what would you have to say, of all people, to her, given the chance? Exactly.' The interrogative, 'what would you have to say.' and hypophra, 'given the chance? Exactly.' illuminates the struggle and desire to reconnect with one's childhood with the present self. Like in First Love, she accepts that it cannot occur.
  • The past invokes pain, 'And later a star, long dead here, seems precisely the size of a tear.' In First Love here, the noun, 'star' and adjective, 'dead' perhaps refers towards the natural cycle of star and by comparing it to her love, it no longer possess the capability of love. The metaphor, 'the size of a tear', also explores pain, by depicting it causes heartache to think it can never be resurfaced. Similarly, Beachcomber, 'If you think till it hurts,' The pronoun, 'you' and adjective, 'hurts' displays mental struggle to remember, not physically hurting but it does cause infliction to think that the past cannot be remembered or be lost. 'Scare yourself,' the verb, 'scare' invoking that the persona is again worried she might not remember herself.


  • The major differences between the two poems, is First Love is focused on a romantic relationship, 'as close to my lips like lipstick.' The simile appeals to the tactile sense, the noun, 'lipstick' suggests intimacy and affection. 'Tonight, a love letter out of a dream stammers itself into my heart.' This is an example of personification, the alliteration of 'love-letter' and verb, 'stammers' portrays how this past memory was beautiful, it falters at how it never can be revisited again but it remains there. In contrast, clearly in Beachcomber, it is suggested that the persona is speaking about their childhood, 'But this is as close as you get. Nearly there. Open your eyes. Those older, those shaking, hands cannot touch.' The declarative, 'but this is as close as you get.' gives a sense of ageing, the persona cannot escape the physical barrier of getting older. The imperative, 'Open your eyes.' And adjectives, 'older' and 'shaking' insuinate the reality. The past cannot be physically touched but it confirms that the child is perhaps the older persona who is desperately trying to be back in that moment.
  • The point made on acceptance however can be challenged because the persona in First Love might not like to accept it but she is happily content with the 'ending' however the ambiguous ending in Beachcomber highlights with the hypophra, 'given the chance? Exactly." That the persona might not at all be accepting of the fact she can no longer revisit the past.
  • Beachcomber uses emjambment, perhaps to demonstrate the struggle of remembering or that internal thought ordering one's self to try and remember as shown by, 'Don't move. Trow.' Here is quite clearly suggests that the persona is being led by themselves, a internal conscience trying to support them. Whereas in First Love, it does not have an example of this but does have an example of rhyme, 'unseen' and 'dream'.

Overall comparison

Both personas revisit the past and long just even perhaps a day to be brought back in that moment however with the passage of time, this a lot much more difficult to do. Insight, the persona in Beachcomber has aged and cannot be taken back whereas the persona in the other poem, cannot invoke a old love that they know is long dead and gone.


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