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"Warming Her Pearls" by Carol Ann Duffy

I find this gente love poem very beautiful and exquisitely written.

Warming Her Pearls
for Judith Radstone

Next to my own skin, her pearls. My mistress
bids me wear them, warm them, until evening
when I´ll brush her hair. At six, I place them
round her cool, white throat. All day I think of her,

resting in the Yellow Room, contemplating silk
or taffeta, which gown tonight? She fans herself
whilst I work willingly, my slow heat entering
each pearl. Slack on my neck, her rope.

She´s beautiful. I dream about her
in my attic bed; picture her dancing
with tall men, puzzled by my faint, persistent scent
beneath her French perfume, her milky stones.

I dust her shoulders with a rabbit´s foot,
watch the soft blush seep through her skin
like an indolent sigh. In her looking-glass
my red lips part as though I want to speak.

Full moon. Her carriage brings her home. I see
her every movement in my head.... Undressing,
taking off her jewels, her slim hand reaching
for the case, slipping naked into bed, the way

she always does.... And I lie here awake,
knowing the pearls are cooling even now
in the room where my mistress sleeps. All night
I feel their absence and I burn.

Thanks, Fiveowls, someone else had given us this poem on the old board.  I loved it then and am happy to be reminded of it now.   I find it  one of the most moving modern poems and never tire of it.

Thank you for that bookfreak.  I'm sorry it's taken me so long to respond but I've only just spotted your message.  In fact, I posted this poem on our old board but felt I'd like to give it a fresh airing as, like you, it's one of my favourites.
Green Jay

Do you know her sonnet 'Prayer' which ends with part of the shipping forecast? It is very beautiful.

Thank you, Green Jay, for reminding me of that poem. It is very beautiful, I think, probably my favourite of hers.


Some days, although we cannot pray, a prayer
utters itself. So, a woman will lift
her head from the sieve of her hands and stare
at the minims sung by a tree, a sudden gift.

Some nights, although we are faithless, the truth
enters our hearts, that small familiar pain;
then a man will stand stock-still, hearing his youth
in the distant Latin chanting of a train.

Pray for us now. Grade 1 piano scales
console the lodger looking out across
a Midlands town. Then dusk, and someone calls
a child's name as though they named their loss.

Darkness outside. Inside, the radio's prayer -
Rockall. Malin. Dogger. Finisterre.

I didn't know "Prayer". It's beautiful. Thanks for posting it.

I didn't know it either, so thanks for that.
Green Jay

I would have posted it when I mentioned it, but I had in mind that Wendy Cope to-do, and felt too guilty! So someone who is more guilt-free put it up. Thank you.

I have it in a wonderful anthology called Staying Alive: real poems for unreal times, which introdcued me to loads of new poets, too, from many different cultures, and I'm still working my way through. There is a second one called Being Alive. Both Bloodaxe, edited by Neil Astley. Fab. I highly recommend them. You'll never want to be without.

I have them both (and probably don't turn to them as often as I ought to), but I think my favourite Bloodaxe anthology is The Honey Gatherers, edited by Maura Dooley. It's an excellent and slightly more off-the-beaten-track complement to books like the Faber Book of Love Poems.

Good news that Carol Ann Duffy is to be the new Poet Laureate.  
And sad to hear that U.A Fanthorpe, a delightful poet and person, died yesterday.

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