Duffy’s written manuscript of the poem Crush provides one major clue as to her intended meaning for the poem.
My first encounter with the poem was reading its title in the table of contents. The word “crush” conjured up images of new love and love at first sight and I expected the poem to be a story or narrative of Duffy’s first romantic experience. After reading through the poem several times, I began to piece together a meaning that was different from the one I expected it to be. Crush, rather than being only about a particular experience, also commented on one’s perception of love in relation to time as well as the expectations that come along with love.

There were very few differences from her manuscript to the original poem. She switched a few words around and one word, “older” placed as the first word in line 12, did not make it to the published version. My understanding for this is that including the word “older” to describe the male figure in the poem might be viewed as redundant because of descriptions such as “taller” and “clever” that already conveyed a sense of age and wisdom.

The really interesting thing I found in the manuscript was that Duffy had considered an alternate title, “Pash.” After a little research, I learned that the word “pash” is British-Australian slang for a kiss that involves the use of the tongue, it’s the abbreviation for “passionate kiss” and the Australian equivalent for the English term “snog.” Having been exposed to this alternate title, my hypothesis that the literal story ends with the girl’s dreams being crushed is given more weight. The narrator tells us of a girl who looks back at a time when she first saw the person she would later fall in love with, but by the end of the poem, the narrator reminds us that “we’re all owed joy,…” indicating that the this love did not work out for the best. The title “Pash” would have certainly added a physical component to the love story and made the notion of heartbreak and rejection even more concrete. In the case of the girl, the infatuation (or perhaps even physical relationship) was a source of joy that soon disappeared, but the narrator reminds us that sooner or later, we will find joy (true love) because we are owed it.

3 Comments on “Crush(ed)”

  1. Candice Bang says:

    That’s interesting that Duffy considered titling it “Pash” because I think that title would connote to readers an even more lustful tone than it already conveys a bit. I think it’s was smart of Duffy to use “Crush” instead because it seems more innocent. Also, “Crush” is a more widely understood word than the slang word “Pash.”

  2. Reza Bhiwandiwalla says:

    Its interesting to note the way in which she had the titles written. At the very top of the page, she had


    and then the text of the poem followed.

    I think pash would have been a good title, it would have tied in well with the theme of having the reader do a little bit of digging in order to get the full meaning of the poem. And also, lash might not be easily interpreted in the United States but could possibly be just as common as the word “crush” in the UK, but I am not sure of this.

  3. Tim Webber says:

    I think the potential alternate title, Pash, has some interesting implications when considering the role that geography plays in Duffy’s work. With the use of slang, it seems like the poem could take on somewhat different connotations in Britain and Australia depending on how exactly the word is used in the local tongue. It seems like a good bit of her work is rooted to a surprising extent in British culture.