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Strugnell's Sonnets (iv) -- Wendy Cope

       
(Poem #1573) Strugnell's Sonnets (iv)
 Not only marble, but the plastic toys
 From cornflake packets will outlive this rhyme
 I can't immortalize you, love - our joys
 Will lie unnoticed in the vault of time.
 When Mrs. Thatcher has been cast in bronze
 And her administration is a page
 In some O-Level text-book, when the dons
 Have analysed the story of our age,
 When travel firms sell tours of outer space
 When aeroplanes take off without a sound
 And Tulse Hill has become a trendy place
 And upper Norwood's on the underground
 Your beauty and my name will be forgotten -
 My love is true, but all my verse is rotten
-- Wendy Cope
(from "Making Cocoa for Kingsley Amis)

Notes: Parody of Shakespeare's Sonnet LV, "Nor Marble nor the Gilded
  Monuments". Strugnell is Cope's fictional creation, a 'rimer' whose
  tragedy it is to fall under the obvious influence of one great poet after
  another.

One of my happier poetry purchases over the last year was Cope's delightful
volume, "Making Cocoa for Kingsley Amis". It's rare that I will sit and read
a single-poet collection through in one sitting, but Cope kept me entranced
all the way to the end, and laughing out loud as often as not.

Today's poem was definitely one of the laugh-out-loud ones, particuarly for
the superb image in the opening two lines. Many great poets have turned
their hands towards parody, but this particular form of bathos is something
Cope handles better than anyone I've seen. (For another great Strugnellian
juxtaposition of the high poetic and the utterly commonplace, see Poem #587
and its "incandescent football in the East"). After that, the poem sadly
degenerates a bit, with Strugnell amply establishing his credentials as a
Bad Poet, but lacking that touch of inspired unselfconsciousness that makes
the Strugnell/Cope poems so funny. But the ending makes up for all that,
with its utterly memorable lament - "my love is true, but all my verse is
rotten" (incidentally, a dig at yet another Shakespearean sonnet). Pure
genius.

martin

Links:
  Sonnet LV:
http://www.poetryloverspage.com/poets/shakespeare/not_marble_nor_gilded.html
  Sonnet CXXX: Poem #44

  More on "Making Cocoa for Kingsley Amis" after Poem #693, and more on Cope
  after Poem #1323

49 comments: ( or Leave a comment )

Breen Mullins said...

On Thu, 2004-12-16 at 14:31 -0800, Martin Julian DeMello wrote:
> One of my happier poetry purchases over the last year was Cope's delightful
> volume, "Making Cocoa for Kingsley Amis". It's rare that I will sit and read
> a single-poet collection through in one sitting, but Cope kept me entranced
> all the way to the end, and laughing out loud as often as not.

I discovered Cope some years ago. I like "Kingsley Amis" quite a bit.
Another side of her that I really like is the lovely "Midsummer
Villanelle" (is that the title?).

The whole poem sequence it appears in is funny, but the grace and
playfulness of that erotic lyric really stands out.

Breen

CHROMA MUSE said...

CHROMA MUSE--
THIS FORM OF POETRY IS A DIGEST OF THE GREAT SHAKESPEAREAN WORK.
WHICH TOUCHES MY MINND IN THE NAME OF DICTION WHICH IT LOCKS.
THIS POEM IS HIGHLY INTELLECTUAL
THOUGH A PARODY IN SPIRITUAL

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