If I don’t Know

Poetry Monday! Thank you to everyone who told me how much they enjoyed last weeks’ poem. I’m enthused by your enthusiasm, so today I’m including two poems! (enthused AND a bit indecisive.)

These are both by the brilliant Wendy Cope, who manages to be funny and insightful and sarcastic all at the same time, dispelling the idea of poets as lofty, miserable people who take themselves far too seriously. She even said recently

I’ve found that the most important quality is authenticity of voice – that is to say I’m put off if the poet seems to be using a special voice for poetry, rather than just being her/himself.”

I like her poems for precisely that reason. She writes as herself, in her own voice. These are both from the collection called If I don’t Know.

If I don’t Know

If I don’t know how to be thankful enough

for the clusters of white blossom

on our mock orange, which has grown tall

and graceful, come into its own

like a new star just out of ballet school,

and if I don’t know what to do

about those spires of sky-blue delphinium,

then what about the way they look together?

And what about the roses, or just one of them –

that solid pinky-peachy bloom

that hollows towards its heart? Outrageous.

I could crush it to bits.

A photograph? A dance to summer?

I sit on the swing and cry.

The rose. The gardenful. The evening light.

It is nine o’clock and I can still see everything.


Fireworks Poems

(Comissioned by the Sailsibury Festival to be displayed in fireworks)


Faster and faster,

They vanish into darkness:

Our years together.


Write it in fire across the night:

Some men are more or less alright.


I wish I had been at that fireworks display.



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