The Daily


Poem: Remembering the Children of First Marriages

September 1, 2011 | by

Lucy Tunstall’s poems leaped out at us from the slush pile for their fresh, unfussy takes on the vagaries of contemporary life; she is one of those poets whose voice already seems familiar. “Remembering the Children of First Marriages” invokes the structured repetition and close observation that make Christopher Smart’s “Jubilate Agno” (“For I will consider my Cat Jeoffrey”) so extraordinary; here, Tunstall, a British poet, turns her gaze not to a winsome cat, but to children of divorce, as if they, too, could be held up to the light and anatomized. An irony, of course, is that there is nothing singular about children of divorce. —Meghan O’Rourke


Oh remember the children of first marriages
For they are silent and awkward in their comings and their goings;
For the seal of the misbegotten is upon them;
For they walk in apology and dis-ease;
For their star is sunk;
For their fathers’ brows are knitted against them;
For they bristle and snarl.
All you light-limbed amblers in the sun,
Remember the grovellers in the dark;
The scene-shifters, the biders, the loners.

Lucy Tunstall is a doctoral student at the University of Exeter.



  1. sara | September 1, 2011 at 11:10 am

    wow, excellent!

  2. RC | September 2, 2011 at 6:59 am

    i’ve often seen and wanted to photograph the qualities so perfectly articulated here; that sense of ‘dis-ease’, the seal of the misbegotten … wow. sigh.

  3. nedsoldman | September 2, 2011 at 12:55 pm

    Very impressed! and very well deserved!

  4. Marie Mulvey-Roberts | June 23, 2014 at 8:36 am

    The poem really captures beautifully the rhythms of Smart’s My Cat Jeoffrey poem. It is searingly haunting – brilliant!

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  1. […] scroll or page past it, because why did that become my habit? So I just read Lucy Tunstall’s “Remembering the Children of First Marriages” at The Paris Review Daily, and it made me dizzy and sick-feeling in only a few lines. For their […]

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