Anne Hathaway

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Anne Hathaway by Carol Ann Duffy
Brief description of the poem:
This is a romantic poem about the Love shared between Shakespeare and his
Wife, Anne Hathaway. It is written in the first person from Anne Hathaway's
perspective after the death of her husband. The poem starts with a quote from
Shakespeare's will "Item I gyve unto my wife my second best bed" This is
meant to be a romantic gesture as guests always slept in the best bed while
Shakespeare and his wife slept in the second best bed. In the 16th and 17th
Century a husband and wife's bed would be a very intimate place where they
would have privacy but also where the couple's children would be born.
Therefore by leaving the second best bed to his wife Shakespeare was making
a very symbolic and loving gesture.
o There is an extended metaphor of the idea of Love in the form of
language. Shakespeare's skill with language and love of words was used
creatively in his writing; the poem is suggesting he was equally
passionate and imaginative about their relationship.
o Anne suggests that as lovers they were as inventive as Shakespeare
was in his dramatic poetry - and their bed might contain "forests,
castles, torchlight", "cliff tops" and "seas where he would dive for
pearls". These images are very obviously erotic, and Duffy no doubt
expects the reader to interpret them in a sexual sense.
o "his touch dancing in the centre of her noun" is a metaphor to describe
their physical contact. "softer rhyme...echo, assonance" are all writing
devices but also suggested that as they aged their passion became more
gentle. Synasthesia is used in the line "by touch, be scent, by taste".
Senses are as important in imaginative writing and similarly sexual
intercourse is a sensual experience. She dreams of him writing her
which could mean that she feels that he was the one to uncover her
o "our guests dozed on, dribbling their prose" suggests poetry is beautiful
and exciting whereas prose is dull. Other people don't have the same
passion as Shakespeare. The alliteration of "Living, laughing, Love"
portrays a happy remembrance of her husband.
o There is a clever play on words in the line `casket of my widow's head'
as a casket means two things. One a coffin or two a place to keep
something precious. Anne Hathaway would have meant this in both
definitions of the word.
The poem is in Sonnet form however interestingly not a Shakespearean
sonnet. Enjambment adds softness to the poem and makes it more similar to
natural speech, like Anne Hathaway is telling her story. The language is far
too modern to be placed in the 1600s and gives a more contemporary feel to
the poem. The poem ends in true sonnet style with a rhyming couplet in which
Anne Hathaway declares her love for her deceased husband.
Poems to compare with
Sonnet 130,
Before you were Mine

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