Mrs Aesop

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The first line of the poem has religious overtones, although meant in a blasphemous way. "By Christ, he could bore for Purgatory". Purgatory is the place where souls go to be cleansed of their sins after death. There is no set time for this and since it is a place of suffering the time seems endless. The implication here is that Aesop could make it seem even worse. This idea is continued in "Dead men, Mrs. Aesop … tell no tales". A motive for murder, in the circumstances! The jokey rhyme of "He was small / didn’t prepossess. So he tried to impress" suggests an insecure man given to making preachy comments to cover up his lack of physical appeal. But, she comments, even if he had ‘a bird in the hand’ it would know how to show its opinion of him.

Duffy uses a number of references to his morals and fables to create a humorous, but at the same time deadening effect. This works because they have become clichés since they were first told and their cumulative effect is of someone who cannot have an original thought but behaves

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