Before You Were Mine
The poet describes her mother’s earlier life according to an old photo which was taken ten years ago when her mother was a teenage girl. At that time her mother lived a carefree life. And the poet knows that her mother didn’t think about being a mother when
she was a teenage girl, when her mind was filled with dances and colourful teenage dreams. The poem is written in present tense, and through the poem, we can feel the poet’s affection, sorry, and gratefulness to her mother. And I will analyse the poet’s
emotion from the aspects of word choice, poem structure and the tone.
In the poem, the poet uses many words to describe her mother’s earlier life before she
was a mother. At that time her mother was a teenage girl and didn’t bother about the
rdfuture very much, and she was bright and happy. "You laugh” (the 3 line)” the bold girl
rdthwinking in Portobello” (the 23 line)" you sparkle and waltz and laugh"(the 25 line), all
these words describe the mother’s life as a carefree teenager who lived just like a film star’s life, she was happy and beautiful, and she dreamt the colourful life without the thought of being a mother. The poet compares her mother’s life to a film star’s, and she
wants to present the merry of her mother’s life with friends and “the thousand eyes” (the
th10 line). And we can feel the poem’s admiration about her mother’s teenage life and also
show her affection to her teenage mother.
Also the poet imagines her mother’s life before she was born. Life back to the mother’s
teenage was very glamorous. Her mother was likened to Marilyn Monroe and went to
thdance where a glitter ball hangs- "the thousand eyes"(the 10 line). And she also
thimagines her mother was waiting for her loved one "under the tree, with its lights"(the 18,
th19 line) with her high-heeled red shoes. At that time, her mother lived a relaxing life other than being a mother. In this part the poet shows great curious about her mother’s early life.
Her mother was charming and was loved by many people, the poet is very proud of her amazing mother. And she mentions the future life of her mother to form a contrast between the two kinds of lives, and expresses her love and thankfulness to her mother.
But, all her mother’s life was changed after she became a mother. She didn’t wear her
thhigh heeled red shoes any more; “relics” (the 16 line) refers the mother’s sacrifice to her
daughter. “You'd teach me the steps on the way home from Mass, stamping stars from the
stndwrong pavement”(the 21, 22 line) .Though the mother taught her daughter to learn the dance steps, she couldn’t back to her teenage life again, the carefree, happy and bright life was gone, just because of being a mother. After being a mother, her life became much dull and boring as she had to sacrifice for her daughter. And the “wrong pavement” the
poet seems to warn her mother that choose to be a mother is wrong, also seems to warn her mother that the free life will gone. With these words the poet shows her sorry for her mother as her birth had ruined her mother’s wonderful life. Also we can feel the
gratefulness of the poet to her mother for her love and sacrifice.
Also, we can feel the poet’s emotion from the structure of the poem. The poet
describes her mother’s life as a teenager and as a mother. There is an obvious contrast between these two kinds of lives. The poet assumes her mother's life was better before
thher own "possessive, loud yell"(the 15 line) was heard. The phrase "I'm not here yet"(the
th9 line) sounds almost like a warning to her mother that the fun of being a teenager will
end when she was born. After being a mother, her mother’s life was totally different,
without high heeled red shoes or sparkle dances. And all these refer to her mother’s love,
also shows her affection and gratefulness to her mother.
And from the tone point, the poem is written in present tense, just like the poet is talking to her mother. And the poet uses a very confident voice as if she is seeing the
ththings happening.” I not here yet” (the 9 line)” till I see you, clear as scent, under the
thtree” (the 18 line), she talks to her mother in a assertive voice and shows her strong love to her; also these words are familiar, “ the decade ahead of my loud, possessive yell was
ththe best one, eh?”(the 15 line). In the poet’s mind her mother’s teenager life is better,
and it’s she that has ruined her mother’s happy, laugh, and carefree life. The poet feels
sorry about it. It is she that changed her mother’s life totally and this point makes the poet
love her mother more.
The poem is written to sound as if the poet is talking to her mother face to face, so the poet follows the patterns of a speech. Many phrases begin with “I” as if the poet wants to
rdassert her presence even before she was born: “I'm ten years away” (the 3 line) “I knew
ththyou would dance like that” (the 11, 12 line).She is curious about her mother’s teenager
life and tries her best to reproduce it by her own imagination according to the old photo, and shows her strong love towards her mother.
The poet uses her imagination to describe her mother’s early life, and shows her love
to her mother. She thinks her mother’s early life was amazing and filled with dances and
colourful teenage dreams; it was a care free life. And the birth of the poet changed the beautiful life for ever, so she feels guilty and sorry to her mother, and she shows her
gratefulness and love to her mother for her sacrifice and love. The whole poem is filled with the sweet love between the lines, and makes the readers feel comfortable and respect to her mother.