1 "Item I gyve unto my wife my
second best bed"-epigraph
1.1 For centuries this extract from
Shakespeare's will has been used as
evidence to suggest that the
relationship between Shakespeare
and Anne was loveless. It indicates
that he did not even think highly
enough of her to leave his best bed
and instead opted for the second best
suggesting that he looked on her as
second best. However apart from this
extract there is little further evidence
to suggest that this idea is true.
2 "The bed we loved in
was a spinning world"
2.1 Here Duffy immediately
negates the epigraph and the
apparent assertion that
Shakespeare and Anne's
relationship was loveless. Just
as the world is vast and the
backdrop to a persons life, so
too is the bed central to the
couples entire existence. The
word choice of 'spinning
indicates the frantic dizziness
that follows the couples
lovemaking showing the
intense passion that exists
3.1 By listing these very dramatic locations, many of
which are featured in Shakespearean plays, Duffy
emphasises the fact that the bed is a place of drama and
adventure for the couple highlighting again the great
passion between the two. The fact that these locations
are central to shakespeares writing suggests that he is
inspired by the bed and there lovemaking showing how
central Anne is to his art.
4 "Where he would dive
4.1 Just as a diver is in search for precious items such as
pearl, so too does Shakespeare view his wife's atomy
as being very precious to him. This imagery describes
a sexual scene between the couple showing their love
and passion, further negating the epigraph. The line
also links to shakespere's play 'The Tempest' where a
character dives for pearls showing a connection
between anne and his writing.
5 "Romance and drama played
by touch, by scent, by taste"
5.1 The word choice of 'romance'
creates a soft tender image of the
love the two shared, 'drama'
shows another side to their
relationship, one of frantic
lovemaking and passion. The
listing of all the scents indicates
how they are all stimulated by
sex . It also indicates that unlike
the audience who only get to
watch Shakespeare's plays, Anne
gets to know every facet of him
intimately with all of her senses.
6 "Some nights I dreamed he'd written me, the
bed, a page beneath his writers hands."
6.1 The word choice of 'written me' suggests that Shakespeare
uses Anne as inspiration for characters within his work.
Again showing a connection between Anne and his art.
Just as a page is brought to life by Shakespeare's writing so
too is Anne brought to life through their love making on
the bed, again negating the epigraph drawing our
attention to their passion
7 "My lovers words were shooting
stars which fell to earth as kisses on
7.1 Just as shooting stars are intense incredible
and beautiful so too are shakespeares words.
This line implies that Shakespeare would utter
his writing to Anne during sex showing how
that Anne is a crucial part of his writing
process. The word choice of 'kisses' draws our
attention to the fact that she equates his words
to kisses and so is therefore aroused by them.
8 "Now echo assonance, his touch, a
verb dancing in the centre of a noun"
8.1 Just as assonance is the repetition of vowel sounds, 'ooo,' 'aaa,'
'eee,' so too does Anne make these noises during sex. Duffy uses
poetic terminology to describe the couples relationship
highlighting how crucial their love is to his art. Just as a verb is a
doing word so too is Shakespeare full of action when in bed, this
again shows his passion towards Anne.
9 'My living, laughing, love'
9.1 Shakespeare draws the readers attention through
the repletion of the long 'L' sound which slows the
pace of the poem indication a change. the final lines
of the poem are the now widowed Anne's
reminiscent thoughts of her deceased husband. The
word choice of 'living' indicates that Anne feels
Shakespeare will live on in her mind through her
intimate memories of him. The word 'laughing'
creates the idea that their relationship was one of
joy and happiness and finally the word 'love'
indicates that their love was a central asset to them
as a couple and their entire relationship revolved
10 "I hold him in the casket
of my widows head, as he
held me upon that next
10.1 Just as a casket is a chest used to store
precious objects so too will Anne store her
precious memories of her husband in her
mind. Casket is also another word for
coffin which draws our attention to
Shakespeare's death. Just as Shakespeare's
sonnets end in a rhyming couplet so too
does this play end in one showing the
closeness of the couple. The word choice of
held creates a soft tender image of their
lovemaking on that second best bed that
was once thought to be an insult to Anne.
11 "In the other bed, the best, our guests
dozed on dribbling their prose."
11.1 This line reminds us of the assertion made
by historians that the best bed would have
been reserved for guests while the marital
bed was traditionally the second best
showing that his will was not intended as
an insult. The word choice of dribbling
implies an unconscious action and prose
creates the idea of something common and
ordinary- unlike the poetry created by the
couple in the other bed.