Poem of the Month: The Orange by Wendy Cope

The Orange

By Wendy Cope

 
At lunchtime I bought a huge orange
The size of it made us all laugh.
I peeled it and shared it with Robert and Dave—
They got quarters and I had a half.

And that orange it made me so happy,
As ordinary things often do
Just lately. The shopping. A walk in the park
This is peace and contentment. It’s new.

The rest of the day was quite easy.
I did all my jobs on my list
And enjoyed them and had some time over.
I love you. I’m glad I exist.

 

Orange

It’s a sunny day today: sunny and fresh and blue. And when I think of happy poetry, this poem by Wendy Cope always comes to mind. I think it’s deceptively simple, managing to capture the contagious joy of love.

There’s not a great deal to it: the narrator buys an orange, shares it with her colleagues or friends, and gets on with her day. This sense of simplicity is echoed by the regular structure, rhythm and rhyme. It feels almost nursery-rhyme like. But it’s this very simplicity which is the core of the poem: new love can render even the littlest things wondrous and joyful – an orange, getting everything on your list done, can make you feel glad to be alive.

There’s a moment at the end of the second stanza where the rhythm is broken and the cadence of the line becomes more awkward:

‘Just lately. The shopping. A walk in the park.

This is peace and contentment. It’s new.’

This forced break, with it’s short, staccato sentences, suggests a moment of reflection – almost stream of consciousness. Thoughtfulness. As the narrator considers the impact love has had on her life. Then she regains momentum in the final stanza and we are carried swiftly through to the joyous ending with its two short, simple sentences: ‘I love you. I’m glad I exist.’

Happy Tuesday everyone.

 

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