Study Guide

Anne Hathaway Writing

By Carol Ann Duffy

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This poem is as much about writing as it is about love. Duffy uses a constant stream of writing metaphors to characterize Anne's relationship with Shakespeare. This is no surprise: Shakespeare was a writer after all. Still, though Bill may have been a writer, Anne Hathaway probably wasn't. In the poem, Anne appropriates (or borrows) Shakespeare's mode of communication for her own purposes by using the sonnet, a form popularized by Shakespeare through his 154-poem sonnet sequence. So in Duffy's poem, Shakespeare isn't the only writer in the family.

  • Lines 3-5: Duffy makes a double metaphor here. Shakespeare's words are shooting stars, and they are also kisses that fall upon Anne's lips. Words become real objects out there in the world that Anne can see and feel.
  • Lines 5-7: Get ready, get set, more metaphors! Anne's diction (or word choice) here – "rhyme," "echo," "assonance," "verb," "noun" – is very writing-focused. These are all poetic devices and parts of speech used by writers, but once again, Anne makes these words come to life; this time, she links this poetic vocabulary to the body. It's almost like we can reach out and touch the "softer rhyme's in the poem.
  • Lines 8-9: Anne tells us that she's dreamed that Shakespeare has written her; maybe she imagines that she's a character in one of his plays, or maybe that he has created her completely out of his imagination. Both are interesting images.
  • Lines 9-10: In these lines, Anne references some of the genres in which Shakespeare wrote – romance and drama – and says that the real-life version is better, more sensuous. Rather than seeing a play about lovers, she gets to touch, smell, and taste hers.
  • Lines 11-12: We find out here that the best bed is reserved for guests. While Anne and her husband may be stuck in the second best bed, it seems a lot more fun than being in the best one. In the best beds, the guests are "dribbling their prose." Anne and Shakespeare, on the other hand, have poetry, romance, and drama. Anne seems to be slyly telling us that her sex life is much more exciting than that of her guests. They're stuck with prose, while she has poetry.

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