Analysis on all the poems from the AQA Love and Relationship Cluster


Before you were mine, Carol Ann Duffy

Poet: born 1955, Scottish poet, poet laureate, raised roman catholic, born in Glasgow

Context: role of women in 1950, a poem where she is looking back at mothers life through photos of mothers childhood, the life her mother had before daughter, 1940s and 50s women’s roles: stay at home raise a family and be a mother. Religious expectation of being catholic and going to church. Once you had a child you wouldn’t be going out

Some ways a sweet poem about her love for mother

But also sinister theme about inevitable role of women in this historical period

Usually she writes about how women’s roles are predetermined and set.

Confirmed that this is a true story about mother.

Title is misleading, love poem and romantic but is actual child-parent with strong idea that daughter is possessive of mother.

We get the impression that Duffy’s mum has died from talk of ghost, if not dead much older

She is looking at photos of mother when young

V1: looking at picture of her mother and friends about 1945 – her mother looking so glamorous the memory and thought of Marilyn Monroe is sparked, the shrieking and laughing with dress blowing up, looking up picture this is amazing

V2: Duffy is looking at picture of mother at dance, dreaming of exciting future, imager relating to youthful promise, movie fame, idealistic movie idea of meeting someone and then her mother tells her off. The imager of movies and fame and freedom contrast with the images of domestic duty which take away hope and promise, lost with child

V3: basically saying life before me was best, I remember the glam red shoes and I messed about them, they are ancient artefacts part of a different life one without me, George square is a real place in Glasgow and ghost clattering could mean dead or metaphorically the old you the  you with love bites and fun is dead.

V4: here on the way home from church you’d teach me dance moves on the wrong pavement: an image which is saying this is the wrong on for mother who should’ve been in more glam setting. I’d look at you and want the earlier care free image of you. Stamping stars – as you walk your feet are scratching and sparking off the pavement.


In many ways this has many of the typical conventions of a dramatic monologue – a poem where someone speaks but person is silent, it is fictional where poet takes on persona. Direct address with before You were mine and YOUR pal and even the rhetorical question at v3 so whether metaphorical the poet is speaking to mother, crucial not a dramatic monologue as it is based on a true even which is similar to loves philosophy, it is based on poets own life.  With a dramatic monologue we have the idea the reader has to read between the lines to work out what the speaker


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