Friday, January 8, 2016

The world is round . . . or flat!

British poet Wendy Cope frequently includes edgy humor in her poems (she is, indeed, a prizewinner in light verse) -- and I like that.  In the poem below (found at PoetryFoundation.org and originally published in Poetry in 2006), Cope examines arguments of whether our world is flat or round.  Part 2 of the poem involves the interesting permutation pattern that is called a pantoum (Lines 2 and 4 of each four-line stanza are repeated (approximately) as lines 1 and 3 of the next stanza -- and the final stanza is wrapped into the first).

Differences of Opinion     by Wendy Cope

1     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.   

2     YOUR MOTHER KNOWS

Your mother knows the earth's a plane
And, challenged, sheds a martyr's tear.
God give her strength to bear this pain --
A child who says the world's a sphere.

Challenged, she sheds a martyr's tear.
It's bad to make your mother cry
By telling her the world's a sphere.
It's very bad to tell a lie.

It's bad to make your mother cry.
It's bad to think your mother odd.
It's very bad to tell a lie.
All this has been ordained by God.

It's bad to think your mother odd.
The world is round.  That's also true.
All this has been ordained by God.
It's hard to see what you can do.

The world is round. That must be true.
She's praying, hoping you will change.
It's hard to see what you can do.
Already people find you strange.

She's praying, hoping you will change.
You're difficult. You don't fit in.
Already people find you strange.
You know your anger is a sin.

You're difficult.  You don't fit in.
God give her strength to bear this pain.
You know your anger is a sin.
Your mother knows the earth's a plane.

Cope's poem is online here at the PoetryFoundation website.  The January 2016 issue of Poetry is devoted to Ecojustice.

2 comments:

  1. I love Wendy Cope! Thanks for sharing these poems, which I hadn't seen before. Now I feel an urge to go back and read that she's a poet of bananas (which is how I got hooked in the first place).

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