The Poet

Tuesday, 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

14 boats moored

  1. I love Wendy. Lucky you to hear her read. From other selections she seems to have experienced quite a bit of heart ache. This post has made me want to re read my Wendy. Looking forward to talking more Wendy at AOP.

  2. This poem is beautiful, and slightly heartbreaking.


  3. Thanks for pointing out Wendy Cope for us, I read the poem you used for the name on your blog and now I am really curious about her. (Though I not normally like poems).

  4. I love Wendy too - my fave is The Orange. Had it as one of our wedding readings in fact. Saw her giving a reading at Latitude Festival last year too, and like you say, she's so much more than just witty ryhmes.

  5. This is lovely. I've never really been into poetry but looking for wedding readings I've realised there are a lot of beautiful words out there

  6. That's beautiful. Heart-wrenching and wistful and lovely. Obviously I need a book of her poems.

  7. That's so sad and so touching. The collection sounds great too, I'll have to look it up. Glad you enjoyed hearing Wendy cope read!

  8. Oh man, that poem makes me ache. So, so good.

    The photos are stunning as well. Where did you find them?

  9. Hello Kirsty. I just passed you the "versatile blogger" award. You can get it here

  10. Thats so sad. And beautiful.

    And I'm the same as Amanda, love the poem which is your namesake after reading it here, and so am off to investigate her further...

  11. So glad you like the poem too, and that I've encouraged some of you to check out Wendy Cope - I love her.

    Sarah, the photos are actually from asos - there should be a wee link at the bottom of the post.