Anne Hathaway

Anne Hathaway Literary Elements

Speaker or Narrator, and Point of View

Anne Hathaway, a 16th-century woman in England and the wife of William Shakespeare.

Form and Meter

This poem is a sonnet, with 14 lines, and generally each line has 10 syllables. However, this poem does not use a formal rhyme scheme, and the meter and syllabic content vary.

Metaphors and Similes

Sleep and sex are used as a metaphor for writing, and writing is used as a metaphor for sex. The speaker describes her husband's words as "shooting stars which fell to earth as kisses/on these lips." This use of metaphorical layers obscures the boundaries between Shakespeare's writing and the couple's love. The speaker continues: "my body now a softer rhyme/to his, now echo, assonance." Again, the speaker uses metaphor to emphasize the relationship between Shakespeare's work and their love. The speaker then makes the tangible abstract: "his touch/a verb dancing in the centre of a noun." She also compares the bed to a page for her husband to write on.

The speaker shifts to a different metaphor in the last lines. "I hold him in the casket of my widow’s head," she says. This metaphor is straightforward, comparing her memories to the casket that will hold his body forever.

Alliteration and Assonance


"My living laughing love –"

This poem often uses repeated "s" sounds. The sibilance gives the poem a sensual tone.

"The bed we loved in was a spinning world
of forests, castles, torchlight, cliff-tops, seas..."

repeated "b" and "s" sounds:
"In the other bed, the best, our guests dozed on,"






The poem focuses on the second-best bed, which becomes a fantasy world for the speaker


Though this poem is written for the speaker's dead husband, it feels full of love and joy.

Protagonist and Antagonist

Anne Hathaway and Shakespeare are the protagonists. There is no specific antagonist, though we could see the poem as contesting those in history who would think that Shakespeare's will implies that he did not love his wife; these people are figuratively represented as the "guests" who get the "best" bed but only "dribble" in "prose."

Major Conflict

This poem does not include conflict, per se, but there appears to be some friction between the two main characters and their guests, who "dribble" in prose, compared to the speaker and her husband, who exist in drama and poetry.


This poem includes a volta, or a turn, which is often included in sonnets. In Petrarchan sonnets, the volta occurs before the last four lines. In Shakespearean sonnets it occurs before the final couplet. This sonnet, fittingly, is Shakespearean. The climax of the poem on the twelfth line, "My living laughing love," gets cut off. The impression is that the speaker, feeling the full force of emotion, chokes up and is unable to finish her sentence. Before this point in the poem, she hasn't reckoned fully with her husband's death. After this fragment, she finally does so, describing how she holds his memories carefully and tenderly in her head.




The form of this poem, a Shakespearean sonnet, alludes to the titular character's (and speaker's) husband, William Shakespeare.

Metonymy and Synecdoche