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Classic and Contemporary Poetry: Explained

ANNE HATHAWAY, by             Poet Analysis     Poet's Biography

Anne Hathaway, written by Carol Ann Duffy in 1998, is a lyrical love poem written to commemorate the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death. The poem presents a heartfelt tribute to Anne Hathaway, Shakespeare’s wife. Duffy elegantly uses poetic elements, wordplay, and metaphor to capture the emotion of this iconic love affair, telling the story of a woman who waited patient and true while her beloved husband dedicated his life to his craft.


Anne Hathaway is constructed through a combination of poetic devices, one of which is the extensive use of metaphor. By referring to the passage of time as “hours and days no bird could count” and mentioning the ages “crossing in eternity”, Duffy creates an image of Anne as a timeless figure, patiently waiting for her lover to return. She also uses personification, saying that “Love held Anne an ordinary girl, by the invisible hand”, and describing how “the stars, like birds, made up their minds” on the course of Anne’s life.

Duffy also makes use of wordplay throughout the poem. For example, the phrase “High in a place no stranger to love” is a clever reference to Shakespeare’s famed phrase “to the manor born”. Additionally, the use of alliteration adds texture and depth to the poem, such as in the line “Anne Hathaway, Anne Hathaway. ” This is used to draw the reader’s attention to the poem’s title and serves to emphasize the enduring legacy of this historic figure.


Poetic Elements:

  • Rhyme Scheme: AABBCCDD
  • Structure: The poem is composed of four stanzas, each with its own distinct rhyme scheme.
  • Language: Duffy presents a dreamlike atmosphere with the use of vivid imagery and lyrical language.
  • Tone: The tone of the poem is one of admiration, nostalgia, and appreciation.


In Anne Hathaway, Carol Ann Duffy has created a beautiful ode to a woman who patiently waited for her beloved, enduringly dedicated to her craft and her family. With her skillful use of poetic elements, Duffy conveys a deep understanding of the iconic power of this love affair, and emphasizes the lasting legacy of Anne Hathaway. Duffy's use of the sonnet form and the poignant imagery throughout the poem capture the essence of Anne and Shakespeare's relationship, making the poem a memorable and moving tribute to love and the power of words. Through her poem, she pays tribute to a woman whose story has been treasured over the years and remains an inspiration to many.

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