Mrs Midas – Carol Ann Duffy


It was late September. I’d just poured a glass of wine, begun

to unwind, while the vegetables cooked. The kitchen

filled with the smell of itself, its steamy breath, gently blanching the windows. So I opened one,

then with my fingers wiped the other’s glass like a brow.

He was standing under the pear tree snapping a twig.


Now the garden was long and the visibility poor, the way

the dark of the ground seems to drink the light of the sky,

but that twig in his hand was gold. And then he plucked a pear from a branch, we grew Fondante d’Automne,

and it sat in his palm like a lightbulb. On.

I thought to myself, Is he putting fairy-lights in the tree?


He came into the house. The doorknobs gleamed.

He drew the blinds. You know the Mind; I thought of

the Field of the Cloth of Gold and of Miss Macready.

He sat in the chair like a king on a burnished throne……….


From Mrs Midas By Carol Ann Duffy, British Poet Laureate of Britain for the last ten years. (until 2019)

To read the rest of her take on Midas go to After Ovid New Metamorphoses edited by

Michael Hofman and James Lasdun, with a number of wonderful poets giving their versions of Ovid.

Includes work by Kenneth Koch, Craig Raine, Derek Mahon, Seamus Heaney, Les Murray, Fleur Adcock and loads more.

8 thoughts on “Mrs Midas – Carol Ann Duffy

  1. I love Carol Ann Duffy! (wasn’t this originally in her “The World’s Wife”?) I’ll have to check oout thie Hoffman/Lasdun anthology, as I really enjoy modern takes on Ovid. Have you seen Nina Maclaughlin’s “Wake Siren: Ovide Resung”? It’s a very loose retelling of some of Ovid’s myth, in prose, with a feminist slant, as women from the myths reclaim their stories. Not for the traditionalist, but I found it really wonderful!

    1. It is in The World’s Wife but perhaps in this collection first.Thanks for the info about Nina Maclaughlin’s work; would be interesting to read her take on Ovid. Some U S reviews of this book speak about needing ‘trigger warnings’ for students’ before reading Ovid. I say no more!

  2. So good — how, as he gets closer to the house, the light is brighter — first the twig in the twilight, then the glowing pear, the gleaming doorknobs . . . all sliding from the kitchen full of the smell of itself into a man spitting out the teeth of the rich.

    Thanks again Gert for something something rich and strange.

    1. Here is a little from another stanza just to stir your curiosity as to how she resolves it…

      But who has wishes granted? Him. Do you know about gold?
      It feeds no one: aurum, soft, untarnishable; slakes no thirst.
      He tried to light a cigarette; I gazed, entranced,
      as the blue flame played on its luteous stem. At least,
      I said, you’ll be able to give up smoking for good.

  3. Thank you for directing me back to Carol Ann Duffy, Gert. I love her work. Have ordered both of these as a treat.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s