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The Uncertainty of the Poet -- Wendy Cope

Guest poem sent in by Paramjit Oberoi
(Poem #1499) The Uncertainty of the Poet
 I am a poet.
 I am very fond of bananas.

 I am bananas.
 I am very fond of a poet.

 I am a poet of bananas.
 I am very fond.

 A fond poet of 'I am, I am'-
 Very bananas.

 Fond of 'Am I bananas?
 Am I?'-a very poet.

 Bananas of a poet!
 Am I fond? Am I very?

 Poet bananas! I am.
 I am fond of a 'very.'

 I am of very fond bananas.
 Am I a poet?
-- Wendy Cope
Published in "Serious Concerns", 1992, Faber & Faber.

This was the first Wendy Cope poem I read...  and it was the beginning of my
discovery of how much joy there could be in poetry.  I love the poem for its
wonderful irreverence, spartan simplicity, and just the fact that it always
makes me smile.  I have no idea what she's talking about though, so I'd
appreciate an analysis by one of you.


[Martin adds]

I've always loved this one too, both for the fact that, like Paramjit, it
always makes me smile, and for the sheer playfulness with which Cope dances
the boundary between poetry and antipoetry. It doesn't really show off her
skill as a parodist as well as some of her other poems, but it strikes a
note of lightness (and, yes, unabashed silliness) that is delightful to
read. I also have a fondness for this particular sort of wordplay - easy to
do, but hard to do well.


65 comments: ( or Leave a comment )

subroto said...

Anyone who likes this poem is bananas. It's the Emperor's new clothes all
over again.


Richa Jhaldiyal said...

This poem has been sung by Kurt Elling - it is a must listen.


Cameron Clan said...

This is my fave poem ever!!!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

hehehe, this poem is AWESOME!!!!!!

maekitso said...

The critical analysis would be that Wendy Cope is highlighting the deconstrutive and reconstructive character of the poet. My emotional reaction to the poen is - hahahahahahahahahahahaha. But seriously, the latter is my prefered analysis.

Shawn said...

Well, it begins as a reference to the painting of the same name by Giorgio De Chirico. I'm surprised no one mentioned that!

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Anonymous said...

um, it's not only a reference to the title of de chirico's poem, it is a direct response to the painting itself... this is an example of ekphrasis - an ekphrastic poem is one that responds to or is inspired by visual art. this is an ekphrastic poem in response to de chirico's "the uncertainty of the poet", which is a surrealist painting with a sculpture and a bunch of bananas in it.

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