Poets Summaries – Higher Tier

Anne Hathaway

  • Speaker is Shakespeare’s wife; remember-ing good times, she compares their love to the most romantic of stories of ‘forests, castles…clifftops, seas…
  • She imagines herself as his creation; he created her as lovingly as any of his masterpieces
  • Their lovemaking is metaphorically described in terms of writing prose or poetry or a play ‘his touch a verb dancing in the centre of a noun.’ Love is like language, like literature.
  • Now he’s dead she holds him fast in her memory in her head and in her body and in her sensesby touch, by scent, by taste
  • He has left her their ‘second best bed‘ – that’s where they had their best times.
  • Sonnet structure
  • Proper sonnet rhyme scheme as a tribute to S’s own sonnets
  • Like Sonnet 130 in that there is one central image – here his creative genius
  • Like ‘On My First Sonne’ because Ben Jonson’s son was his ‘best piece of poetrie’


Mother Any Distance

  • Speaker is presumably the poet
  • His mother is helping him measure up for his new house
  • He is half afraid of this new life
  • He compares his mother’s love to the ‘Anchor‘ to his ‘Kite‘ keeping him secure, but now the time has come ‘to fall or fly
  • He doesn’t want to hurt her but children have to leave like baby birds and he secretly revels in his new freedom ‘space walk through the empty bedrooms
  • Sonnet form but expanded to show the breaking point / stretching of the metaphorical umbilical cord represented here by ‘the spool of tape…unreeling years between us…something has to give.’
  • The sonnet form shows us he loves his mother, the irregularity of it and the only occasional rhyme shows his hesitation, guilt and doubt at leaving her.
  • Yet she will still be there always ‘pinch[ing] the last one hundredth of an inch.’


On My First Sonne

  • Written by a contemporary of Shakes’
  • About his real loss of his son
  • He regarded his son as his ‘best piece of poetrie‘ his ‘right hand and joy
  • He is very sad at the loss and blames God and himself ‘My sinne was too much hope of thee.’ That his son had been lent to him by God and now ‘I thee pay
  • But he also envies his son because now he won’t have to suffer, he has ‘scap’d‘ this world and all its hardship.
  • But sadly the poet has learned never again to ‘like too much.’
  • Set out as a shortened sonnet – like its title! Because the child’s life was shortened.
  • The regular rhyming couplets emphasises the father’s almost obsessive love for his perfect son.
  • Clues to the poem’s age are found in the shortening of syllables ‘scap’d‘ instead of escaped and ‘lov’d‘ loved with the last syllable being sounded! But this way it fits!
  • Shakespeare is usually credited with giving English its shortened words


Sonnet 130

  • Written to make fun of the traditional sonnets written by his contemporaries which he regarded as too over the top!
  • Shakes here compares his mistress to the usual beautiful things and sees that she falls short of the ideals of beauty!
  • Coral is far more red than her lips red
  • In fact her breath even ‘reeks‘ – not very flattering!
  • Yet he still loves her.
  • Still set out perfectly as a sonnet with the right number of lines, iambic pentameter and alternate rhyming she may not look perfect but in his eyes she is!
  • So it’s ironic.
  • and yet by heaven, I think my love as rare / as any…


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