The Farmer's Bride by Charlotte Mew.
This poem is about a rushed marriage with the sense of a forced marriage. The poet never achieved much success although acclaim from other successful poets. She spent most of her life in poverty.
The two subjects in this poem are the farmer and his wife. The speaker throughout the poem is the farmer. The first three lines suggest that the farmer was too busy with farming to spend time with his wife. The view of this poem and the look towards women is old fashioned and the syntax is unusual due to the dialect. There is a rhyming couplet at the end of every stanza apart from the last stanza.
There is a sense that the marriage depresses her and we learn that the farmer's wife is androphobic. Line 6 suggests the farmer's wife is cold and the use of linguistic techniques such as personification and metaphor suggest that she is like a frightened fairy and not happy with her life. Non-standard english is used to bring the farmer's personality to life and the incorrect language refelects the farmer's accent.
Line 10 suggests that the farmer's wife is out on her own and that the farmer has lost control of her.
The idea of sheep and animals is extended and there is a sense that she is afraid of falling asleep and that she is a fearful person. Metaphorically, the farmer's wife feels trapped and is being hunted. The mention of church and religion promts a Catholic reading re-inforcing the fact that divorce is frowned upon. Divorce appears as not an option and that the farmer will keep her.
You can physically see the wife's fear and she is not emotionally attached to her husband. There is a big semantic field of hunt and capture due to the sinister tone of the lines 18 and 19. Society has strong sexual views and there is a reading that she is scared to be the 'wife' of the time and have sexual relations. The wife does the housework which makes the male perspective of the poem clear. There is continuous animal imagery but she does complete part of her womanly roles.
Her timid nature comes through with her reluctance to have sex. The language used in this poem is very basic as it reflects the speaker's personal dialect and voice. This suggests that the farmer is unintelligent. Line 25 suggests the idea of begging or pleading with imagery. The wife could be seen as anti-social to the point of being depressed and she is withdrawn of general conversation. The reader feels a sense of sympathy towards the wife.
The farm animals trust the wife which suggests a sense of jealousy from the farmer. There is also no communication between the couple and a sense of awkwardness is presented. This poem is masculinely driven and there is a clear male undertone. The wife gains a sense of escapism and freedom with the animals that she aspires to have with her husband. Line 30 engages the reader by the use of similie and rhetorical question. Time is also presented in this poem with the poem going through the seasons. The time of their marriage is personified by the time of seasons passing.
The trees in Autumn lose their beauty which presents the idea that the farmer's wife is losing her appearence and beauty. The use of dark imagery suggests the marriage is breaking down and the reference to magpies on line 37 suggests that their marriage holds lots of bad luck.
The following reference to Christmas sparks positive thoughts although the poem suggests Christmas is a lonely time for the couple and that they just want to be alone. Christmas won't be as good because she is with the farmer.
The farmer's wife is compared to a 'maid' and the use of enjambent emphasises his frustrations. The farmer is aware of her physical presence which suggets a sense of fustration and insanity. There is a violent tone to the end of the poem and a sense that he has lost control. There is an irregular rhythm to the last stanza which reflects his behaviour and emotions. His connection to his wife is only physical and nothing deeper. You could also argue that he is longing for her.
There is a sense of exasperation from the farmer and that positionally he is there taking what he wants.
The Farmer's Bride coud be compared to 'In Paris With You', 'To His Coy Mistress' and 'Hour'.