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The Disclosure of Nostalgia in Carol Ann Duffy's Poem

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In what ways does the final stanza change the understanding of the poem “Nostalgia” as a whole? What use has Carol Ann Duffy made of repetition to convey meaning and/or emotional effects?

A little background about the author and she is Carol Ann Duffy. Duffy has written powerful monologues for those who cannot express themselves and are voiceless. She produces quality works and she likes to mix the concept of the power of language feeling together. She likes to write poems based on romance. With Duffy being a lesbian, she makes sure to include empathy and understand women about their feelings in her poems. And whatever work she comes out with, her readers always feel empowered by her poems.

About the prescribed poem given to me, from the term itself, nostalgia means the desperate desire to go back home and wanting that feeling of home again. This poem is based on swiss mercenaries in the 17th century. Duffy reflects the pain the soldiers experienced who were going through this “illness”. she wrote this poem to show how naive society was during the 17th century, as they had no idea what caused this “illness” and made sure that she built the feeling of nostalgia throughout the poem.

In the first stanza of the poem, as the speaker quoted “down down” this refers to alliteration and repetition. I believe this can be interpreted as both literally or metaphorically. If we see the literally meaning of it, these mercenaries are moving down the mountains to the lowlands. Or nostalgia is an emotional problem that makes an individual sad which can lead to that person feeling down. Another thing to mention is that, also in the first stanza, Duffy uses phonological techniques which is also an alliteration as well and this is quoted by “ Crude coins clenched” this creates the “C” harsh sounds by repeating the same letter. As these mercenaries get paid, they test the coin by putting it in their teeth to see if it was real gold or not. And I believe that this also senses that, these payments are not worth it. As they sacrifice the pleasure of staying back with their family and leaving their homeland for the money. Again in the first stanza shows the anaphora and repetition of the word “wrong” 5 times throughout the 4 lines in the poem. I believe that this indicates the 5 senses of the human being, as the wrong taste, sound (hearing), smell, light (sight) and touch.

Moving on to the second stanza, as quoted by Duffy “sweet pain” and I again believe this is indicated as an oxymoron as a flashback to a memory. The word sweet shows the warm memories in the past. and pain is encountered with the sadness felt by these mercenaries where they are feeling hopeless as well. Duffy uses repetition in the second stanza as well and it is shown by the repeated letter of “h” by and this shows the sadness and the emotions through the sounds of “h” experienced by these mercenaries because of nostalgia. It is like a sighing sound. Another repetition shown in the stanza is repeating a letter of “P” where it is about thinking back to the past. As in trying to go back to that same particular place all over again as this is caused by the nostalgia again.

In the last stanza, Duffy uses repetition and anaphora which is quoted by the word “same” 3 times. This relates to nostalgia where that place is still the same but the time has changed. And this also answers my prescribed guiding question which is “ What use has the writer made of repetition to convey meaning and/or emotional effects?” To answer my remaining guiding question which is “ In what ways does the final stanza change your understanding of the poem as a whole?”

In the final stanza, I believe that the mercenaries thought that they were going back to the place where the memories had happened. But unfortunately, everything has changed although the place is the same. Which in this case, the mercenaries must adjust with something new. And the mercenaries felt like strangers in their own homeland even though they originally belonged there. Duffy showcased the theme of nostalgia where even tho the place and buildings have not changed, but time has passed and the person has changed. Now everything can ever be the same. This shows that strong men can also become weak through the illness of nostalgia.

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