How does this poem intertwine love and writing, and what are the effects of this choice?
This poem makes a big deal of written, spoken, and physical expressions of love, but the comparisons Duffy draws are not so straightforward. "My lover’s words/were shooting stars which fell to earth as kisses/on these lips," she says. This multilayered comparison alludes to a complex relationship between the speaker, the writer, and his writing. She continues by saying, "my body now a softer rhyme/to his, now echo, assonance; his touch/a verb dancing in the centre of a noun." These moments reveal the speaker's understanding of poetry and the control she has over her own voice. It's true that Hathaway, the speaker, echoes her husband, but Duffy uses the link between love and writing to sneakily empower her by giving her power over her narrative.
In what ways does this poem subvert the typical story told about Shakespeare and Anne Hathaway?
Duffy subverts the traditional historical view that Shakespeare and his wife were not close, and that Shakespeare even disliked his wife and did not want to marry her. For example, Shakespeare and Hathaway had their first child only six months after being issued their marriage license. Many historians interpret this to mean that they had a shotgun wedding, and that Shakespeare felt forced into and trapped by his marriage. However, the haste regarding their marriage may have been due to the pregnancy, but that does not mean they did not intend to get married to begin with. The couple also could have been unofficially engaged with their families' knowledge for any amount of time before obtaining their marriage license, which would have made consummation less scandalous. Hathaway uses this poem to remind her readers that these feelings very well could have been expressed by Anne Hathaway. No evidence exists to prove that her relationship with Shakespeare was not loving, though no evidence exists to prove that it was. Duffy reminds us that the historical record is open to interpretation, and her poem adds to the ways we can understand Shakespeare and the world around him.
How does this poem's form influence its content?
This poem roughly follows the form of a Shakespearean sonnet. However, its rhyme scheme and meter, in particular, deviate from the sonnet form. The effect is that the character of Hathaway reclaims her place next to her husband, as his partner, yet she also outpaces him by breaking his poetic form, reclaiming power as a person.