As Carol Ann Duffy has just become Poet Laureate, for my writing this week I'm posting a poem I wrote in 2000, while on my writing course. We'd been looking at Duffy's collection, The World's Wife, poems about, or written by or addressed to wives of famous people, and for homework we were asked to write our own wifely poem.
I did a bit of research about my subject but not a lot and I probably malign her terribly so bear in mind this is fictional poetry! (Unusually for me, I had quite good marks for this poem.)
My dearest Mrs B
My dearest Mrs B,
What a delight it was that you were able to
Join us for dinner this evening.
A shame you could not stay for long
But as you say the children must learn
That needs must where the devil drives
And early to rise necessitates early to bed.
Little Tommy is now quite settled and it is my earnest hope
That you will not hold against him his tears
(And screams) at your every appearance.
I assure you he does know who you are —
Every evening I point out to him Mama
In the photograph on the piano in the parlour.
And, may I just suggest that Hannah’s failure
To answer satisfactorily your questions on
Household budgeting could perhaps be put down to her
Lack of years and experience. At five I doubt if even you,
Dearest, were quite the competent you are today.
Our meal this evening was most
Charming — I can taste it even now.
Nothing surpasses good English food
And boiled tripe and onions always slips down so
Well, but, dearest, I wonder whether
The bread pudding was just a little on the heavy side?
Of course, you know your own business best,
And if you say that this is how it should be,
Far be it from me to criticise.
On a different note, I wonder, dearest,
If you might find time to have a word with the under housemaid.
She is most lackadaisical about her duties,
I even caught her sitting in the middle of the day.
I hope we shall meet in the office tomorrow
But, if not, I look forward to seeing you
At the dinner party for the Hatfields.
I remain, your devoted husband, Sam Beeton.
P.S. If you have your diary to hand,
And it’s not too much trouble,
I would be grateful if you could let me know
A time convenient to you
For me to make my monthly night-time visit.
I would hate a recurrence of last month.