“Anne Hathaway” by Carol Ann Duffy, the current poet laureate, is a strikingly poignant poem. It is in the persona of Anne Hathaway, Shakespeare’s wife, and is perceived to be the opinion of what she thinks about when she is left the second best bed in his will. The sonnet explores the loss felt by Hathaway as she grieves for her husband.
Throughout the poem Duffy effectively uses poetic techniques to explore the feeling of loss felt by Hathaway as she is now a widow. The sonnet form allows Duffy the opportunity to discuss the emotion of loss as it highlights the grief felt by Hathaway perfectly. The title of the poem is interesting as it directly quotes from Shakespeare’s will “Item I gyve unto my wife”. Using the sonnet form effectively allows the feeling of loss to flow through the poem. Duffy emphasises the words “living laughing love” by putting stresses on them.
This highlights the feeling of loss that she has for her dead husband. Duffy wrote the poem in the persona of Anne Hathaway but did not follow the rules of the sonnet form. If Duffy followed the rules of the sonnet form then the work “rhyme” would fall on a stress but it doesn’t and this illustrates the flow of the emotion of loss. Duffy describes the bed that Hathaway and Shakespeare made love in as a “Spinning world”.
This gives the idea of it being magical and exciting. Duffy uses metaphors such as “forests…” to indicate the romance that they shared as it is no longer there and now there is only the feeling of loss. Duffy uses the words “my lover’s words” and this instantly illustrates the feeling of loss because Hathaway would never be able to hear him speak to her again during romance. Enjambment is effectively used to convey the spilling over of emotions of loss felt by Hathaway as she remembers the romance and the kisses they shared.
Duffy creates the idea that there relationship was bright, exciting and out of this world by using the words “shooting stars”. Duffy reinforces the emotion of loss felt by Hathaway with the words “these lips”. This highlights the fact that they will never be able to share the magical times they had together again. Duffy does not always stick to the iambic pentameter such as when it comes to the word “kisses”. This highlights the fact that these are personal and they will never be able to do this again so creating the feeling of loss for her husband.
Duffy makes a reference to literature to create the idea that they were made for each other. She uses the words “a verb dancing in the centre of a noun”. This highlights the fact she will never be able to feel like this with anyone else because Shakespeare was the verb and she was the noun. The poet uses senses to reinforce the importance of the shared experiences Hathaway and Shakespeare had together. Duffy uses the phrase “by touch, by scent, by taste”. This brings their relationship to life and reinforces the idea that they won’t be able to share this romance again.
Although other people sleep in the best bed they will never be able to reach the same level of excitement and romance that Hathaway and Shakespeare shared. Now that Shakespeare is no longer there Hathaway herself will no longer be able to reach the same level of romance and excitement in that bed.
The poignant use of alliteration “my living laughing love” heightens the readers understanding of the emotion of loss felt by Hathaway as it makes the reader realise that she is sad at the death of her husband. In the beginning the poem talks about the bed that they shared and where exciting and magical happened but at the end it tells us of the bed where she was “held”.
This instantly makes the reader feel sad as Hathaway has to deal with the emotion of loss and grief. Throughout the poem Duffy effectively creates the emotion of loss. The emotion of loss is illustrated through the bed that they shared and where all the magical and exciting moments happened. This creates the emotion of loss because she will no longer be able to relive those moments but instead only has the memories of them and the loss of her husband.