Monday, March 28, 2005

A Step Away from Modernism

We have been talking in tutorial lately that the response to modernist poetry has been a reverting back to the type of poetry that involves more of a distinct rhyming scheme, balanced meter and consistency within its format. Also, more conventional and positive subjects are being desired as opposed to the negativity found within such poems like Elliot's "The Wasteland." One such 'post-modern' poem, if I may call it that, which I have found to fit this 'change of heart' is Wendy Cope's "Flowers."


Some men never think of it.
You did. You'd come along
And say you'd nearly brought me flowers
But something had gone wrong.

The shop was closed. Or you had doubts--
The sort that minds like ours
Dream up incessantly. You thought
I might not want you flowers.

It made me smile and hug you then.
Now I can only smile.
But, look, the flowers you nearly brought
Have lasted all this while.

What I found interesting about this poem, in comparison to modern poetry, is that there is a distinct positivity about it. Unlike, for example, Wilfred Owen's poetry that tends to lack idealization or romanticization of things, this poem seems to idealize the subject (the man) because he is always thinking about buying his love interest flowers. Although he never does, the narrator idealizes the fact that it is the thought that counts, for the flowers that he had always thought about buying would theoretically last forever, unlike real flowers.

While there is not consistency with the meter of this poem, there is a rhyming scheme which should be noted. Nowadays, I think that younger people in particular associate poetry with rhyming. In this poem, the author has a distinct rhyming scheme. in each of the three quatrains of this poem, lines 1 and 4 rhyme (along/wrong; ours/flowers; smile/while), giving the poem a rhythm that the reader can easily identify. There is also a consistency within the format of this poem. This is seen through the existence of the three quatrains, unlike in Wallace Stevens' poem "The Idea of Order at Key West," where a total of six sections make up the poem and are each of a different number of lines. With "Flowers," however, there is almost a symetry within the structure. This can further be seen when looking at the number of syllables in lines 1 and 4 of each quatrain. In each of these lines, there are six syllables, which helps to emphasize the rhyming scheme: 'You did. You'd come along/But something had gone wrong; The sort that minds like ours/I might not want your flowers; Now I can only smile/Have lasted all this while'.

This poem stands out in my mind as very different from Modernist poetry, for example, and epitmoizes what poetry is to me. And besides, I think this poem is quite clever!!!


Blogger Navita said...

i read this poem a long time ago, and hated the way that it sounded, the fact that it was about flowers that never were given, and all that, but now that i read it again, you are right, it is very clever, and it makes me stop and remember to read other poems very carefully, and slowly, so thati can appreciate it for all it's worth.

March 31, 2005 at 2:46 PM  
Blogger Elisha said...


November 10, 2017 at 8:58 PM  

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