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Monday, 11 June 2018

REPOST: Flowers by Wendy Cope


Reposted from February 2013.
This post is especially for All Consuming. But of course anyone is very welcome to comment!
Wendy Cope. Born England 1945.(www.goodreads.com)
Flowers

Some men never think of it.
You did. You’d come along
And say you’d nearly brought me flowers
But something had gone wrong.

The shop was closed. Or you had doubts —
The sort that minds like ours
Dream up incessantly. You thought
I might not want your flowers.

It made me smile and hug you then.
Now I can only smile.
But, look, the flowers you nearly brought
Have lasted all this while.

From Serious Concerns, Faber & Faber, 1992

Wendy Cope, born 1945, is an English poet, the kind of whom it is easy to dismiss as lightweight or superficial but I would like to make the case that she is neither of those things. Although clothed in humour and wit, her words carry the weight and gravitas and of more serious matters. She cleverly uses the easy appeal to make a point, often about men: Men are like bloody buses-/ You wait for about a year/ And as soon as one approaches your stop/ Two or three others appear.
The poem centres around the themes of remembrance and intentions that were never carried out and there is a deep underlying sadness present. I think it is saying that the thought counts as much, or more, than the deed. The last stanza is heart-breakingly poignant.

I am listening to the late Kevin Coyne's brilliant recording of Blame it on The Night. He was a bit of a wild child who had been a psychiatric nurse and he sang about mental illness with deep insight. Listen here.

9 comments:

Hels said...

remembrance...
intentions never carried up...
sadness...
heart-breaking poignancy.

Sounds like marriage *sigh*

bazza said...

Hels: But beautifully encapsulated. I love how she conveys so much meaning with not many words.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Bazza - I must check out more of her poems ... she's obviously well respected. I'd love to understand poetry better ... perhaps I'll do a course when I get back to the UK ... but so appreciate your interpretation for us ... some I had taken in - but the rest = no ... so glad to have your words = cheers Hilary

Parnassus said...

Hello Bazza, Wendy Cope seems to be refuting the idea that "the road to hell is paved with good intentions," while tacitly alluding to and agreeing with that sage nugget of advice.
--Jim

Natalie Roesch said...

Just checking in. Would love to continue reading your blog. Much has changed for me. But to keep in touch with "old" friends would help so much. I won't continue my blog too sad, with us moving because of Rod's Alzheimers.
Natalie

All Consuming said...

Aww, lovely! Its a very sweet gesture and I do love my poetry, thank you sir! X

bazza said...

Hilary, Jim, Natalie and AC: Apologies for this late replay. I have just returned home from spending some time in Toronto and now I'm jet-lagged! Hope to be back to 'normal' soon.

Susan Flett Swiderski said...

Parnassus already gave a comment similar to what I was going to say. My mother used to recite that line about good intentions whenever someone failed to follow through on a promise, so the poem's point of view is way different from the way I was raised. Or is it? Maybe the poet's underlying sadness, although mixed with a dollop of good humor, is a poignant reminder of how not following through can hurt the people we love. (I still get the feeling that she would've loved to receive those flowers...)

bazza said...

Susan: I think see feels as though she did receive those flowers! There is ambiguity in her poem. The humour certainly hides some pain within.