Analysis of Kissing by Fleur Adcock

I'm going to analyzing a poem called Kissing by Fleur Adcock. This poem deals with the ways that relationships change with age.

It's an open form poem so it has no particular rhyme scheme or meter, although the line lengths are fairly regular throughout the poem which could suggest that although many things about relationships change from young to old age.

There are certain aspects certain fundamental parts of relationships like passion which do stay the same.

The poem is made up of two stanzas the first one reflecting young love and the second reflecting old love. So it moves in chronological order reflecting the way that relationships progress.

There's a use of enjambment throughout the poem reflecting that passage of time again.

And the contrasting settings of the first and the second stanzas suggest that young love is idyllic whereas with age comes a more realistic yet strong love. But there are also similarities highlighted in the old and young couples but for both of them, their futures are uncertain. And perhaps the poem suggests overall that relationships are about living in the moment.

So let's have a look through the language of the poem. In the first stanza, it focuses on young couples. So these young couples are walking on the riverbank and that immediately suggests their sense of continuous possibilities because the river leads to greater things I either sea.

They have our arms around each other's waists and shoulders. So they're physically linked and they're pretending to be looking at the water lilies and what might be a nest of some currents. They're trying to be romantic but really they're just wanting to kiss. And that nest is a symbol of marriage but this is also forgotten about suggesting that that's perhaps too far in the future for these young couples.

The nest also reflects a certain fragility about their relationships. So perhaps this isn't something which is going to last.

And "which two who are have clamped together mouth to mouth have forgotten about". The syntax there is quite awkward grammatically as it's sort of put together in a difficult way. And that helps to portray the convoluted awkwardness of kissing in public or of others witnessing those displays of affection and it suggests the complexity of relationships.

The idea that these couples are clumped together mouth-to-mouth suggests their intense relationships. But also a sort of sense of desperation particularly in that phrase mouth-to-mouth which gives a sense of resuscitation.

And once we've had that phrase forgotten about that line is end-stopped suggesting a real sense of finality and continuing.

With the first stanza "The others making courteous detours" so that suggests actually a lack of courtesy from the couple themselves. It's obvious that they're in love and others respect that but there's also a sense of selfishness there which is reflected in the last line of that stanza it's their River they've got all day. They're completely oblivious to the other people around them because they're so wrapped up in passion.

There's also that sense that time is unimportant to them they're caught in the moment and are unaware of time passing. And that's reflected as well and when we have the line they can see no one older than themselves so that could suggest that there's no future for passionate or open love of that kind. But also that they can't see into the futures and they're only focusing on the moment.
around them, talk, stop talking, kiss.
In that second line, we've also got a number of caesurae which could suggest again that awkwardness of kissing in public or perhaps of a new relationship. But also this routine of people kind of coming up to them walking around them and then walking on. So it suggests that this is something that happens all the time this is a place where young people go to kiss.

Then we move on to the second stanza which focuses on older couples.

It opens with this short clause "seeing's not everything" so that immediately shows a change in focus. It suggests that public displays are not needed to justify affection. "As this very moment, the middle-aged are kissing in the back of taxi" so the young couples moment is shared by the older couple suggesting the young are not the only ones in love. And the fact they're in the back of taxi suggests that it's more private and furtive. There's a sense of these couples sort of hiding away.

The fact that they're "on way to airports and stations" implies a kind of Jet-setting and cosmopolitan life. So perhaps they are actually having a more exciting life than the younger couples are despite the fact that their passion is slightly more hidden.

And then towards the end of this section, we've got "their mouths and tongues of soft and powerful and as moist as ever". So it's very very sensual and the older relationships are still intense and romantic. Perhaps older relationships are less idealistic but they focus on stolen moments throughout the day. So in that way, they're more realistic but equally as passionate.

And we see that more as we get into the second half of this stanza.

"Their hands are not inside each other's clothes" so there's this more sensible approach the older couples are more discreet than the young couples. And that parenthetical phrase because of the driver suggests that they are just as passionate but they're more restrained so they can control their emotions, unlike the younger couples.

And then we have this phrase and their hands are locked so tightly together that it hurts. So it reflects the idea of being clamped together like we had in the first stanza. But it's even stronger here because there are possible painful consequences so it hurts it may leave marks on there not of course youthful skin.


But they don't mind about that youthful skin they won't notice so the attraction here is not dependent on physicality perhaps it goes even deeper than done the younger couples attraction.

Then we have this final short clause "they too may have futures" so as a conditional tense here may have futures suggesting that nothing is definite. There's this sense of uncertainty and the plural on futures suggests that they may go their separate ways. But just like the young couples, they can look forward to their future.

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