The PoetTuesday, August 23, 2011
Those of you who have been paying attention will know that this blog was named after the words of a wonderful poet, Wendy Cope. I owe my love of her work to my mum, so it was only fitting that together we burled along to listen to Ms Cope reading at the Edinburgh International Book Festival.
Much of her verse is witty and light-hearted, and as a result has been harshly criticised in some quarters for not being "proper" poetry, but to those critics I say: cheer the fuck up.
Having said that, the poem that struck me the most yesterday was one of her more serious pieces. It was part of a series commissioned by the Endellion String Quartet to celebrate their 30th anniversary, centred around the theme of "The Audience". The end result is a series of wonderfully insightful vignettes and character sketches. From the Traditionalist ("I like a good tune with a regular beat / From the days before music went wrong") to the Radical ("This isn't avant-garde enough / It really isn't hard enough / It isn't avant-garde enough for me"), to the adorable First Date, as told from both perspectives ("She said she liked classical music / I implied I was keen on it too").
But my very favourite poem made me want to grab the people I love the most and wrap them up in a ginormous bear hug, as if by simply loving them enough I could halt the very passage of time. So here it is.
The Widow by Wendy Cope
I like this piece. I think you'd like it too.
We didn't very often disagree
Back in the days when I sat here with you
And knew that you were coming home with me.
This is the future. It arrived so fast.
When we were young it seemed so far away.
Our years together vanished like a day
At nightfall, sealed forever in the past.
I can't give up on music, just discard
The interest that we shared because you died.
And so I come to concerts. But it's hard.
Tonight I'm doing well. I haven't cried.
My head aches. There's a tightness in my throat.
And you will never hear another note.
From 'Family Values', available here.
Images from French Connection lookbook via asos