He tells her
He tells her that the Earth is flat—
He knows the facts, and that is that.
In altercations fierce and long
She tries her best to prove him wrong.
But he has learned to argue well.
He calls her arguments unsound
And often asks her not to yell.
She cannot win. He stands his ground.
The planet goes on being round.
by Wendy Cope
- What do you think this poem is telling us?
I chose it for several reasons. It’s short, written by a female, has rhythm and rhyme and tells us something fundamentally important. Only one of these characteristics is – I think – essential for an effective poem.
- What is an essential characteristic of a poem for you?
School nearly killed poetry for me. I struggled through Matthew Arnold’s Sorab and Rustum with Rape of the Lock by Alexander Pope and Wordworth’s Michael. Now I remember them for all the wrong reasons! The curriculum today includes Carol Ann Duffy, Simon Armitage and Benjamin Zephiniah and I think the best way to approach poetry is through contemporary poems. This isn’t to say the ‘classics’ don’t matter but they’re culturally specific which doesn’t always translate well across the centuries.
I returned to poetry but on my own terms. At the moment I’m reading Homer’s Iliad and am amazed at the power of its words. They date back millennia yet much of it could have been written yesterday. For me this is what poetry is all about; that tingly kick in the heart which signifies resonance.
- What is your experience of poetry?
Share your comments. Let’s feed each other poetics.
image from Camille Flammarion’s L’atmosphère: météorologie populaire (1888) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Camille_Flammarion#/media/File:Flammarion.jpg