One of my favourite poets is Carol Ann Duffy, and I especially love her collection ‘The World’s Wife’ – my English teachers had the best taste when picking texts to study! But here I thought I’d share my absolute favourite of the collection – a poem called ‘Anne Hathaway’, which is about Shakespeare and his wife, and the possible reason why he left her the ‘second best bed’ in his will. It’s possibly the most romantic of all the poems in the collection and it really hits me where I live, especially since I adore Shakespeare.
by Carol Ann Duffy from The World’s Wife
‘Item I gyve unto my wife my second best bed …’
(from Shakespeare’s will)
The bed we loved in was a spinning world
of forests, castles, torchlight, clifftops, seas
where we would dive for pearls. My lover’s words
were shooting stars which fell to earth as kisses
on these lips; my body now a softer rhyme
to his, now echo, assonance; his touch
a verb dancing in the centre of a noun.
Some nights, I dreamed he’d written me, the bed
a page beneath his writer’s hands. Romance
and drama played by touch, by scent, by taste.
In the other bed, the best, our guests dozed on,
dribbling their prose. My living laughing love –
I hold him in the casket of my widow’s head
as he held me upon that next best bed.