Lines Some nights, I dreamed he'd written me, the bed a page beneath his writer's hands […] Get ready for even more writing metaphors. Anne tells us that she has dreamed that her husband had "written" her. Maybe she means that he's written about her in one of his sonnets or plays.
Or maybe the metaphor is more extreme. Maybe she dreams that he's created her entirely, that she was called into existence by Shakespeare. In this metaphor, the bed becomes a page upon which Shakespeare writes Anne.
Once again, we have some more stereotypical femininity. Anne imagines that she's the product of someone else's imagination, and not a self-created or self-determined being. Is Anne a bad feminist? By attempting to set the record straight on her relationship with Shakespeare, she seems to give Shakespeare a whole lot of control.
Then again, setting the record straight is a pretty strong and important act in and of itself. Basically, this poem has a pretty tangled view of the relationship between men and women. Lines […] Romance and drama played by touch, by scent, by taste. Anne mentions two genres of playwriting — romance and drama — both of which Shakespeare knew well.
Other people get to read Shakespeare's words and see his plays, but Anne gets to touch, smell, and taste the man himself.
While writing and sex seemed pretty much equivalent earlier, here Anne declares that sex is better. Romance and drama i. Life is better than art, she seems to say. Lines In the other bed, the best, our guests dozed on, dribbling their prose. Anne tells us that their best bed was reserved for guests. We already know that she and Shakespeare slept in the second best bed.
This seems like a pretty good explanation of what Shakespeare said in his will: To be honest, The best bed seems pretty mundane compared to the second best one. Which bed would you rather be in? Anne also continues with her writing metaphors. In the second best bed, there's poetry, drama, and romance. In the best bed, the guests are "dribbling their prose. It's what you read and write all the time, in newspapers and novels, in textbooks and in emails and on Shmoop! It has no form, the line breaks don't matter, and there's no rhythm.
It's the opposite of poetry, which has form, meaningful line breaks and sometimes regular rhythms. Who wants prose when you could have poetry? Since writing is so often a metaphor for sex in this poem, Anne seems to be saying that she and Shakespeare have better sex in their second best bed than the guests do in the best bed. Lines I hold him in the casket of my widow's head as he held me upon that next best bed. We know from the epigraph of the poem that Shakespeare is dead when this poem is written — the fuss is over his will, after all.
In these lines, though, Anne imagines him as if he's still alive. He's her "living laughing love. Still, even though her husband may be dead, her imagination keeps him alive.
Here, she compares her mind to that second best bed. She holds on to the memory of her "living laughing love" just as strongly as her husband held her physically while lying in bed.
While there have been a lot slant rhymes close-but-no-cigar rhymes and repeated sounds earlier in the poem, there is no formal rhyme scheme. Nothing rhymes perfectly — until these final two lines, that is. In the last two lines of the poem, we have a wonderfully strong and dramatic rhyme of "head" with "bed. Is Anne referencing her husband's sonnets here? Or has she become empowered over the course of the poem and wants to show off?
That's up for debate. Either way, this poem goes out with a bang.