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A Comparison of 'hour' and 'in Paris with You'

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Hour by Carol Ann Duffy is about the feelings that accumulate from spending time with a loved one. The poem suggests that to be with a loved one, even for just an hour, is precious and valuable. In Paris With You by James Fenton contrasts reality with the fantasy of love. The poem explores the consequences of love. The speaker wants a ‘real’ relationship that exposes the faults rather than romantic gestures. The poem takes the reader through the journey of trusting/ being part of a relationship again.

Both poems demonstrate that a stereotypical romantic setting is not needed to experience their interpretation of love. Duffy spends all of that one hour in a ‘grass ditch’, which is an improbable location and creates an unclean imagery but they are taking in the ‘whole of the summer sky’ which changes the image to a visual beauty of a loving couple lying down together and looking up. In Paris With You uses colloquial language to reject the traditional concerns of romance – ‘say sod off to sodding Notre Dame’. The famous sights of the usually romantic city of Paris are unimportant to Fenton. Both poems emphasise being together is far more important than typical romantic locations.

Both poems differ in their attitudes to love – Duffy has a more positive approach to love and deems love to be the best time of the day whereas Fenton demonstrates that love was the cause of the worst time in his life. For example, in Hour: ‘so nothing dark will end will end our shining hour’. ‘So nothing dark’ implies that nothing threatening can occur to the lovers and terminate the highlight in their day –‘shining hour’. On the other hand, In Paris With You discusses how love was the cause of the worst time of his life by saying ‘I’m one of your talking wounded’. This is play on words and is supposed to be ‘walking wounded’ which suggests that Fenton was injured in a major battle and this battle is symbolic for his previous relationship which ended in an acrimonious heartbreak.

Both poems attempt to make the best out of a bad situation. Hour proves that love is unstoppable –‘but love spins gold, gold, gold from straw’. The repetition suggests that love will spring out over and over again and this idea of love always triumphing is continued because straw has no value but love still comes out of it. In Paris With You also demonstrates this – ‘I’m in Paris with the slightest thing you do’. ‘Paris’ is a metaphor for love –Fenton is in love with everything about his lover. Both poem show that love and what they have with their partner is all that matters now.

However, both poems have a darker message behind what they are trying to get out of their relationship. The same line from Hour ‘but love spins gold, gold, gold from straw’ is a reference to the fairy tale Rumplestiltskin which didn’t have a happy traditional ending and proposes that the couple are actually greedy

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