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A very public attempt 3

At Understanding Poetry

I loved Tulips. You do not need to know about the tragic life of Plath to be moved by it. It is not decorous. It is not trying too hard. There is an honesty in the poet's 'voice' and the words just fall gracefully in place.



Which brings me to my next offering. Try this one.

Being Boring
If you ask me 'What's new?', I have nothing to say
Except that the garden is growing.
I had a slight cold but it's better today.
I'm content with the way things are going.
Yes, he is the same as he usually is,
Still eating and sleeping and snoring.
I get on with my work. He gets on with his.
I know this is all very boring.

There was drama enough in my turbulent past:
Tears and passion-I've used up a tankful.
No news is good news, and long may it last,
If nothing much happens, I'm thankful.
A happier cabbage you never did see,
My vegetable spirits are soaring.
If you're after excitement, steer well clear of me.
I want to go on being boring.

I don't go to parties. Well, what are they for,
If you don't need to find a new lover?
You drink and you listen and drink a bit more
And you take the next day to recover.
Someone to stay home with was all my desire
And, now that I've found a safe mooring,
I've just one ambition in life: I aspire
To go on and on being boring.
- Wendy Cope

I bet most of you would have liked it. But it may not be in the realms of grand, classical poetry for some. Why? Because its subject matter is not some obscure thought but the crushingly mundane? Which leads me to wonder if can you write about dog shit and still call it poetry.

Comments

shyam said…
She's written about my life, so I love it :) I like simple poetry too... and if anybody can write a poem about dog shit in an engaging way, then hats off to that person! :) Writing about the mundane - and keeping the reader's interest - is probably harder than writing about higher philosophy.
Madura said…
Yes loved it. I think it is the attitude, may be some go for the spirit of the poem, some go for the structure and some for the sophistication - I think I belong to the gang who like the spirit or the attitude of the poet.

You gave me a blog idea.

I am going to write a blog on dog shit now!!! :) Not a poem.
Only broken prose!
Falstaff said…
'Poems' like this really give me a pain
They sends me in search of a doctor;
They're trite, they're glib, they're oh-so-plain
And have all the excitement of dog turds.
If you're just killing time you could do worse
Like drinking or going out whoring
But poetry? No, just pretty verse
And frankly, my dear, quite boring.
Falstaff said…
I think the real question is - what are you looking to get out of poetry? If all you want from 'poetry' is light entertainment - poetry as sitcom - then this poem will serve perfectly; not even the sternest critic will deny Cope her charm and her facility with verse. But if you want poetry to achieve the status of art, if you want it to surprise and challenge, thrill and move, if you want reading a poem to feel like a discovery, and demand that the poem show you new and deeper meanings with each new reading, if you want a poem to be something you can meditate over rather than just consume, then this is not it. You have only to compare this poem to Tulips to see how Plath's poem is infinitely richer and more beautiful. Whether or not you're amused by the Cope is largely irrelevant.
WA said…
Boring is cool. I liked the poem, i liked the fact that i could understand it for starters.
Madura said…
I think this poem falls under the idea of "existentialism" - though the poet may not have intended it, it seems so for the reader in me.

To quote from wikipidea - the work of all philosophers who fall under this ism "their work focused on such themes as "dread, boredom, alienation, the absurd, freedom, commitment, and nothingness" as fundamental to human existence"

I have always admired the rebel behind the existentialist thought ... The utter frankness and total acceptance of what a person is without any inner meaning or essence to dig into! :)
austere said…
It didn't stretch me, didn't make me dig for meaning where there is none intended. Perhaps because its all there, on paper, its all told?
For instance, if these lines even hinted at the ignominy, the dreariness of being boring, the vacuous inertia that sets in- it could have taken us someplace else, but it doesn't. A start, and finish and that's that. Stuff like this I call "A for apple" .
It wasn't deep or thought provoking. But it was lyrical and whimsical in a completely inane way. I liked it but it's not something I'd call Poetry.
Akira said…
Phew this one made sense at least! :p ....as mentioned in the earlier comments, this struck to me as a simple straightforward poem...no hidden meaning...didn't feel the need to delve further into whats n whys and hows..

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Now and Then

"Now that I'm fifty-seven",
My mother used to say,
"Why should I waste a minute?
Why should I waste a day

Doing the things I ought to
Simply because I should?
Now that I'm fifty-seven
I'm done with that for good."

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Trapped in some thankless chore
Just as she might have been at
Fifty-three or fifty-four

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(And I have to bite my tongue)
That if you mean to learn a skill
It's well worth starting young

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For fifty, I've begun
To do exactly as I please
Now that I'm thirty-one.

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