…possesses loose breasts,

a wobbly womb, unfavourable features

resembling an English mare etc;

And is therefore unfit to bulge my huge passion.

She read silently.

‘By my life, he could not get it up.’


‘Outcast’ is the third in a four-part poetry series based on four of Henry VIII’s wives, and inspired by Carol Ann Duffy’s ‘The World’s Wife’ (read more on this here). In ‘Outcast’ I explore the culpability assigned to the woman for Henry’s failure to consummate the marriage (which is historically true). Even with the 400+ year difference between now and then, this is a familiar situation in popular culture, and in the personal lives of women.

Here, she openly retaliates, and turns the accusation back on him: accusing him of a lack of virility. Henry was obsessed with portraying a strong image of manhood (one look at the projection of his codpiece in his most famous portrait is just one indicator of this), and so I played on this idea.