I started writing poetry as a teenager, and am always drawn to poetry that has complex themes, layers to be dissected. Years ago I started a poetry curation service, where subscribers could sign up to receive poetry of a specific theme – the lover, the dreamer, the existentialist and the comic. The comic was always the hardest for me to curate, not because it’s hard to find poets who deal with lightness poetically but because I didn’t know how to – lightness had not been not my strong suite, and is one I am still learning.
For today’s issue, I wanted to share a poem by Wendy Cope. Wendy is a contemporary english poet who employs humour and word-play adeptly in her work for adults as well as children – reading her work made me see how simplicity and humour can be meaningful too. Her poems feel buoyant to read and melodic to hear. In 2010, Wendy was awarded an Order of the British Empire. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and lives in Winchester, England.
by Wendy Cope
At lunchtime I bought a huge orange
The size of it made us all laugh.
I peeled it and shared it with Robert and Dave—
They got quarters and I had a half.
And that orange it made me so happy,
As ordinary things often do
Just lately. The shopping. A walk in the park
This is peace and contentment. It’s new.
The rest of the day was quite easy.
I did all my jobs on my list
And enjoyed them and had some time over.
I love you. I’m glad I exist.
In a creative writing class in New York, the teacher once told us – “Don’t write about love unless you are cynical, and you’re far too young to be cynical”. I love that Wendy writes about love with the same kind of joy she writes about sharing an orange or a walk in the park. Or rather how, love for yourself or another colours even the most ordinary task of the day to make it hopeful. “And that orange it made me so happy, / As ordinary things often do / Just lately. The shopping. A walk in the park / This is peace and contentment. It’s new.”
Growing up in India, there is so much strife that you witness everyday – peace and contentment feel far away – but just lately, I am learning to look at an ordinary moment with the same contentment that Wendy does. It’s new for me too.