before you were mine


before you were mine

In this poem Duffy addresses her mother, framing the time element in a curious way so that she inhabits with her voice the ten-year period before she was born. Speaking in the voice of her pre-existent self, she addresses her mother during the ten-year period preceding her own birth. She is exploring real time but a time that can only be imagined as far as she is concerned. Through specific detail she reconstructs the life her mother led before her daughter’s birth.

The title of the poem is surprising in that it suggests something a mother might say to a child rather than the other way around. The word ‘mine’ suggests closeness in a relationship and a sense of loving ownership.

form, structure, language

poem is made up of 4 equal stanzas written in rhyme sequeunce. the


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