In her poem entitled 'Anne Hathaway', Carol Ann Duffy adopts the persona of Shakespeare's widow. The introductory quote from Shakespeare's will 'Item I gyve unto my wife my second best bed' reminds us that Shakespeare's best bed was reserved for guests, and that Anne inherited the one that she and her husband slept in. This bed becomes the focus of the fourteen-line poem.
In the opening two lines, Duffy uses a metaphor to express the magic of the bed in which Shakespeare made love to Anne: it was 'a spinning world / of forests, castles, torchlight, clifftops, seas'. More metaphors follow in lines three and four as Anne Hathaway recalls their lovemaking; she expresses the notion that Shakespeare would 'dive for pearls', and she describes the sweet words he said to her as 'shooting stars' that landed on her lips when he kissed her.
From line five to line ten Duffy uses imagery in a fascinating way that relates directly to the fact that Shakespeare was a writer. Anne sees her body as 'a softer rhyme to his ... now assonance', assonance being a figure of speech in which the same vowel sound is repeated. Then follows the charming personification of his touch, portrayed as 'a verb dancing in the centre of a noun', giving a feeling of grace and delicacy. Anne says that she sometimes dreamed that Shakespeare had 'written' her, wishing that she herself were part of his artistic creation. She metaphorically imagines the bed as 'a page beneath his writer's hands'. She sees their lovemaking as drama enacted through 'touch', 'scent' and 'taste'.
In lines eleven and twelve a contrast is created to the early magic of the poem in the description of how the guests, in the best bed, 'dozed on, / dribbling their prose'; no poetic lovemaking for them! But line twelve then switches to Anne's alliterative description of Shakespeare as 'My living laughing love'. She tells us in line thirteen how she treasures her memories of him with the metaphor 'I hold him in .the casket of my...