Mrs Sisyphus

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Sisyphus, according to legend, was a trickster, who stole the secrets of the gods. At one time he was said to have chained up the King of the underworld, Hades, so that nobody could die. When he finally released him, Sisyphus himself became near to death but persuaded his wife not to bury him, so that when he arrived in the underworld he protested to Persephone, its Queen, that e had not been buried and should not be there, thus gaining himself an extra lease of life. When at last death caught up with him, he was condemned to an eternity of futile labour, pushing a great rock up a mountainside, only to have it roll back as soon as it reached the top, so Sisyphus would have to start all over again.

In the poem, Duffy imagines what it would be like to marry a man who spends every minute in such futile labour. There is a child like counting rhyme in the endings of many lines, "jerk / kirk irk / berk / dirk / shriek / cork / park / dork / gawk / quirk / lark / mark / bark / etc." but they way they build up to the final word ‘work’ is a clever piece of construction, as well as an amusing technical feat which is much harder than it seems.

Again there is a sense


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