Charlotte Mew's 'The Farmer's Bride'

This poem is taken from ‘Modern Women Poets’ edited by Deryn Rees-Jones (Bloodaxe 2005). It’s an excellent anthology, as is the companion volume of analysis, ‘Consorting with Angels’.

I know very little about Charlotte Mew (1869-1928) despite my attempts to learn more. But I admire this poem because it creates the Farmer’s Bride through the incomprehension of the farmer. A modern writer would probably be more stident, condemn the farmer as an animal, and bore the reader.

But Mew suggests his incomprehension is genuine. His feeling that something unnatural is happening is grounded in his version of what is natural which is reflected in the animals and changing seasons around him. The poem both accepts this and criticises it as limited.

The poem allows the reader to sympathise with both characters.

This makes it far more interesting, and thought provoking, than something which beats the reader with slogans.