The two poems I have decided to compare are “Love song, with two goldfish” by Grace Chua and “Valentine” by Carol Ann Duffy, because of the way in which the poet surprises the reader. The reader is initially deceived by the titles given to the poems; “Love song, with two goldfish”, for instance, is quite an unusual title. Animals are rarely ever associated with strong feelings of love and relationship – goldfish make no exception. “Valentine”, similarly, tricks the reader by suggesting that the poem will be about romantic love, but instead the poet is very direct about her feelings and does not hold onto the popular ideals imposed by society – like cliché symbols and ideal love. Instead, she herself concentrates on her own feelings and what they might lead to. However, despite the theme of love the two poems turn out to have a bitter ending; an ending that, once again, is unexpected.
The most obvious similarity between the two poems is the use of an original and definitely uncommon extended metaphor. In Chua’s poem, the metaphor relies on the fish and mainly on the fish bowl. The fish represent two lovers’ feelings; how his lover “swallows his charms hook, line and sinker” (stanza 2, line 10-11) and how “her love’s […] gone belly-up. His heart sinks like a fish. He drinks like a stone” (stanza four, lines 16-19). This is the poet’s way of suggesting that this poem isn’t truly about fish; in fact, when fish die, they do not sink – they float. A heart can sink like a stone