A Song for Last Year's Wife - Poetry Analysis

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SONG FOR LAST YEAR’S WIFE The poem ‘Song for Last year’s Wife’ is addressed to the narrator’s ex-wife. The persona is separated from his wife. His reminiscences of the lady on the day of the anniversary of their separation are evident by the phrase, ‘A year from now….’ The poet’s feeling regarding their break-up is depicted through the line ‘Love had not the right to walk out of me.’ The narrator insinuates that he has a new partner when he quotes ‘I wake up with another mouth feeding from me.’ The poet bluntly addresses his ex-wife by naming her in the premise of the poem, ‘Alice.’ Though the man is in a new relationship, he is clearly unsatisfied as highlighted by the negative words ‘hard’, ‘empty’ and ‘nothing.’ The man’s curiosity regarding the woman escalates to one point where he sends his spies as depicted in the line, ‘I sent out my spies …doing’, this reveals his obsessive, suspicious and manipulative nature and hints at one reason behind their divorce. However, the actual cause for the separation remains shrouded in mystery. The man’s obvious trust issues are portrayed in his scruples concerning his wife’s fidelity. The poet alludes to the woman being promiscuous, “They smile...You first”, and this paints a less sympathetic image of the persona’s character. The poem is set in winter ‘this is my first winter…perhaps it is the winter’, this is the poet’s way of expressing sorrow or in short, an example of an extended metaphor. The husband’s possessive nature is succinctly put forward by one line, ‘Somebody came here’ The man asks hypothetical questions like, ‘So what?’ to show that, in spite of his loyalty one woman has deserted him. It seems quite ironic due to the fact that he has proved to be distrusting by sending out spies, ‘Have you noticed?’ Visual imagery is provided by the reference to winter
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