Poems to share

Bridled Vows

I will be faithful to you, I do vow,
but not until the seas have all run dry
et cetera. Although I mean it now
I’m not a prophet and I will not lie.

To be your perfect wife, I could not swear;
I’ll love, yes; honour (maybe); won’t obey,
but will co-operate if you will care
as much as you are seeming to today.

I’ll do my best to be your better half,
but I don’t have the patience of a saint
and at you, not with you, I’ll sometimes laugh,
and snap too, though I’ll try to show restraint.

We might work out. No blame if we do not.
With all my heart, I think it’s worth a shot.


Copyright Ian Duhig 2016. Reproduced by kind permission of Picador. 

Ian Duhig

Ian Duhig has worked with homeless people for fifteen years. Chosen as one of the Poetry Book Society’s New Generation of poets in 1994, with Carol Ann Duffy and Simon Armitage, Duhig shares those poets’ ability to dramatise contemporary concerns in technically accomplished verse. Duhig is particularly celebrated for his poem ‘The Lammas Hireling’, which won both the National Poetry Competition and the 2001 Forward Prize for Best Single Poem. His most recent collection The Blind Roadmaker is shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Best Collection.

Duhig’s advice to aspiring poets is practical: ‘learn to live on very little. Never underestimate what a massive pain in the **** you will be to your loved ones and everybody else. Be lucky and be kind.’