Friday, April 4, 2008

"The Orange"

The poem for this week is “The Orange” by Wendy Cope. To read the poem, go here.

Have you read it? Good. Just be warned – I had students who hated this poem. The main question that came up was: “What does an orange have to do with anything?” These students, who were in high school, had a rather extravagant view of love. Raised on a steady diet of The O.C. and romantic comedies, they believed that romance meant slow motion montages and meet-cutes. The poor orange just could not compete.

However, I still have a soft spot for Cope’s “The Orange.” Not everyone can jet off to Paris to meet under the Eiffel Tower or kiss on top of a Ferris wheel in the middle of a carnival. Furthermore, even if people could do these things, romantic escapades are not usually indicative of true love. It is easy to get swept away in the moment when flying first class to a weekend rendezvous. It is harder to uphold this illusion when going to work on Monday morning.

This leads us to “The Orange.” It is about love and romance and how they can make even the simplest of things more enjoyable. The speaker even notes that she (or he) finds happiness in ordinary things, such as walking in the park. Consequently, even the most commonplace objects, like an enormous orange, take on a new quality. The part of the poem that completely wins me over is the ending – a simple “I love you. I’m glad I exist.” It isn’t an overly elaborate declaration, but sometimes simple is indeed better. I would much rather hear this than “You had me from ‘hello’” or (shudder) "Jack, this is where we first met!"

Have you got a favorite poem to share? Please feel free to post in the comments section!