Seen in the context of when it was written, the title may seem to indicate that the couple is living together possibly without being married, something frowned upon in those times.But when subjected to a modern reading, the sin may lie not in cohabiting without matrimony, but in living together in a loveless relationship: marriage may imply certain obligations in a relationship, but the irony of staying together despite growing romantic disillusionment in an arrangement based on love, is poignant. During the stretch of the poem there is no loving interaction between the couple, and indeed the man does not even show more than a cursory acknowledgment of his partner.
Rich reinforces the woman's mood of growing disenchantment, and the skewed equations in the liaison with a series of striking imagery. The studio is a reflection of the relationship itself, and the gathering dust on the “furniture of love”, is symbolic of the deterioration in the conditions of the relationship. A dust she had assumed will never fall does turn up, a dust the man could not be bothered about, and it is eventually up to her to remove it.
The leaking tap and the grimy window panes are similar images, and it is “half-heresy” for the woman to wish they were not so, because they are a harsh antithesis of her romantic vision, which is more in line with the artistic cliches: “A plate of pears,/a piano with a Persian shawl,/ a cat stalking the picturesque amusing mouse”. Her idea of romance is based on an unrealistic, almost decadent viewpoint which the man had conjured up for her. ...Show more