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  #1  
Unread 01-19-2001, 08:38 AM
Alan Sullivan Alan Sullivan is offline
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Pending Caleb's acquisition of books, and hoping this time to hit on one of Mike's favorites, I'll post a few more by the redoubtable Wendy Cope: first two epigrams, then something longer.


Another Unfortunate Choice

I think I'm in love with A. E. Housman,
Which puts me in a worse-than-usual fix.
No woman ever stood a chance with Housman
And he's been dead since 1936.


Loss

The day he moved out was terrible---
That evening she went through hell.
His absence wasn't a problem
But the corkscrew had gone as well.


Rondeau Redouble

There are so many kinds of awful men---
One can't avoid them all. She often said
She'd never make the same mistake again:
She always made a new mistake instead.

The chinless type who made her feel ill-bred;
The practiced charmer, less than charming when
He talked about the wife and kids and fled---
There are so many kinds of awful men.

The half-crazed hippy, deeply into Zen,
Whose cryptic homilies she came to dread;
The fervent youth who worshipped Tony Benn---
"One can't avoid them all," she often said.

The ageing banker, rich and overfed,
Who held forth on the dollar and the yen---
Though there were many more mistakes ahead,
She'd never make the same mistake again.

The budding poet, scribbling in his den,
Odes not to her but to his pussy, Fred;
The drunk who fell asleep by nine or ten---
She always made a new mistake instead.

And so the gambler was at least unwed
And didn't preach or sneer or wield a pen
Or hoard his wealth or take the Scotch to bed.
She'd lived and learned and lived and learned but then
There are so many kinds.

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  #2  
Unread 01-20-2001, 09:11 AM
Len Krisak Len Krisak is offline
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Alan,

On my portable Wendy-meter, not a 10 perhaps,
but certainly a 7 or 8.

Even Tony Benn makes sense here--if you check out his politics.
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  #3  
Unread 01-25-2001, 01:00 AM
Caleb Murdock Caleb Murdock is offline
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I wish someone would post a "10" so that I can see what it is I'm missing.
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  #4  
Unread 01-26-2001, 08:53 AM
Jim Hayes Jim Hayes is offline
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Alan, thank you for bringing Wendy Cope's work to the forum.
I have long been a fan of hers and thorougly endorse your opinion that she is among the five best poets writing in english today.

Jim
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  #5  
Unread 01-26-2001, 10:33 AM
Alan Sullivan Alan Sullivan is offline
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Jim, I'd rather not put a number on anybody's rank. Look at CM's reaction. I think some Americans have a hard time getting past that stiff upper lip, but I love Cope's understated style, even though it's not something I would attempt myself.

Alan

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  #6  
Unread 01-26-2001, 11:57 PM
Charles Albert Charles Albert is offline
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Hey, she's great! The Housman one is short, has cute punch line... snappy all the way through. I'd give it a 10 if the number concept hadn't just been nixed.

The Rondeau is clever but it owes too much to Rogers & Hart's "To Keep My Love Alive".
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  #7  
Unread 02-07-2001, 04:54 PM
mandolin mandolin is offline
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Just got my copies of Serious Concerns and Making Cocoa for Kingley Amis, and read them straight through -- she had my kids looking strangely at me. What a delight!

She's out of print in America -- neither my neighborhood indie bookstore nor the online stores could order them -- but Faber has a web site which takes direct orders. The two of them (Making Cocoa in hardcover) plus shipping came to only $31. Best money I've spent on books in a long time.
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  #8  
Unread 02-07-2001, 05:30 PM
Alan Sullivan Alan Sullivan is offline
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I'm glad you got the books, m., and I hope Ms. Cope's poems give you pleasure for a long time to come. I find that she belongs to that small, small group of contemporary poets whose work I reread repeatedly.

Alan
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  #9  
Unread 02-07-2001, 06:50 PM
Michael Juster Michael Juster is offline
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I have been having great fun with Sam Gwynn lately. To make a long story less wearisome, I suggested to Sam a marketing scheme for his new book (No Word Of Farewell--Story Line Press--buy it or I will dump all over your poems!) that involved linking him romantically with famous literary women. I sent him my Cope triolet, he sent me a triolet suggesting that Ms. Cope would be grossed out by the mere thought of an affair with me, and I sent him a rebuttal triolet with a general knock on his qualifications in amorous matters. All of which leads me to stop hesitating posting my favorite Cope despite the fact that I have probably created unrealistic expectations (sorry, Caleb!).

Waste Land Limericks

I

In April one seldom feels cheerful;
Dry stones, sun and dust make me feel fearful;
Clairovates distress me,
Commuters depress me--
Met Stetson and gave him an earful.

II

She sat on a mighty fine chair,
Sparks flew as she tidied her hair;
She asks many questions,
I make few suggestions--
Bad as Albert and Lil--what a pair!

III
The Thames runs, bones rattle, rats creep;
Tiresias fancies a peep--
A typist is laid,
A record is played--
Wei la la. After this it gets deep.

IV

A Phoenecian called Phlebas forgot
About birds and his business--the lot,
Which is no surprise,
Since he met his demise
And been left in the ocean to rot.

V

No water. Dry rocks and dry throats,
Then thunder, a shower of quotes
From the Sanskrit and Dante.
Da. Damyata. Shantih.
I hope you make sense of the notes.


Reading Scheme

Here is Peter. Here is Jane. They like fun.
Jane has a big doll. Peter has a ball.
Look, Jane, look! Look at the dog! See him run!

Here is Mummy. She has baked a bun.
Here is the milkman. He has come to call.
Here is Peter. Here is Jane. They like fun.

Go Peter! Go Jane! Come, milkman, come!
The milkman likes Mummy. She likes them all.
Look, Jane, look! Look at the dog! See him run!

Here are the curtains. They shut out the sun.
Let us peep! On tiptoe Jane! You are small!
Here is Peter. Here is Jane. They like fun.

I hear a car, Jane. The milkman looks glum.
Here is Daddy in his car. Daddy is tall.
Look, Jane, look! Look at the dog! See him run!

Daddy looks very cross. Has he a gun?
Up milkman! Up milkman! Over the wall!
Here is Peter. Here is Jane. They like fun.
Look, Jane, look! Look at the dog! See him run!

Cope used to be an elementary teacher. I have this villanelle on tape, and it is marvelous to hear her read it.
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  #10  
Unread 02-07-2001, 07:23 PM
Golias Golias is offline
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[This message has been edited by Golias (edited February 08, 2001).]
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