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  • Writer's pictureCarrie Etter

The Beauty of the Husband by Anne Carson (Cape, 2001)

My Anne Carson reading group here in Bath continues, and The Beauty of the Husband is next up, so here are some of my favourite passages. As the titles of the individual sections can be quite long, I'll just identify the poem-section in which the passage appears.

I broke the glass and jumped.

Now of course you know

that isn't the true story, what broke wasn't glass, what fell to earth wasn't body.

But still when I recall the conversation it's what I see--me a fighter pilot

bailing out over the channel. Me as kill.


To stay human is to break a limitation.

Like it if you can. Like it if you dare.

from 'III'

Demeter's victory

over Hades

does not consist in her daughter's arrival from down below,

it's the world in bloom--

cabbages lures lambs broom sex milk money!

These kill death.

from 'IX'

...I was unshielded

in the face of existence

and existence depends on beauty.

from 'XI'

He sought her. He sought her everywhere. Through the nakednesses

of his imagination. In sorrow. In foxholes. As deer flicker in a wood way off in late winter.

He knew he would destroy the deer.

from 'XIII'

Is it I? cries the soul rushing up.

from 'XX'

Letters made one day different from another, made if into sun.


Did you ever touch your tongue to a metal surface in winter--how it felt to not get a letter is easier to say.


Waiting coils inside her and licks and licks its paws.

from 'XXI'

The husband swallows his ouzo and waits for its slow hot snow inside him.


Cheer is rampant in the husband now.

Infinite evening ahead.

Its shoals appear to him and he navigates them one by one....

from 'XXII'

Their seriousness wracks her.

People who can be serious together, it goes deep.

from 'XXIV'

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