The three poems in question are much contrasted in their content, tone and style. The poem by Willam Butler Yeats is a classic, whose lines have been invoked on many a romantic occasion by the English speaking peoples. The poem is a ode to love, but its real beauty comes from the angle of self-love. While admiring the object of his desire in unequivocal terms, the author implores her to have consideration for his heart. It is a charming way of wooing the lover, by showing the fragility and politeness of the besotted. It is a clever romantic ploy as well, for, by boldly claiming to be poor and modest, the narrator is putting the burden of rejection on the part of his lover. This is an enchanting way of tapping into her guilt. But what the poor romantic lacks in wealth, he duly makes up in imagination. The presentation of the golden, colourful and embroidered clothes of heaven as a carpet to the girl’s feet makes for powerful imagery.
In the poem Valentine by Caron Ann Duffy, conventional ideas of romance are set aside to reveal a novel interpretation. Eschewing tired metaphors of moonlight and flowers, the author gets to the task of exposing the real nature of love, albeit with a dry sense of humour. Onion is the surprising choice of a love talisman in this poem. Duffy finds many analogies between the characteristics of an onion and the nature of love. For example, both induce tears, will leave a taste on the lips when kissed, both involve undressing of clothes, etc. To boot, cut onion rings even resemble wedding rings for the imaginative. The poet thus employs subtle humour in projecting a realistic picture of romantic love. According to her, romance brings with it a fair share of grief.
The poem Rubbish At Adultery by Sophie Hannah is a playful take on adulterous relationships. It is a humorous feminine rant addressed to the infidel man by his mistress. She accuses him of bringing his legitimate family’s problems during their time together. Annoyed by his tendency to spoil their fun hours, she orders him to get assertive. She says, if he can find fun and happiness in an adulterous relationship, he is better of quitting it. That way he would save himself from the moral torment that he is being subjected to. Through the damning words of the frustrated mistress, the poet expresses a deeper truth. And the truth is that one has to pay a price for indulging in adulterous relationships. Virtues such as guilt or responsibility toward one’s family will have to be kept aside for adultery to be effective. As the despondent mistress suggests, adultery is not for the conscientious or the scrupulous. It is best enjoyed by those who are carefree and self-forgiving.
In sum, the three poems in question are very different from one another. They present different perspectives on intimate relationships. They raise a range of questions, including the validity of real love, the nature of romantic love, and even the futility of infidelity. The three poems together make for a colourful, diverse melange of lyrical art.