A simple poem, and a profound message: Exploring Wendy Cope’s The Orange

Wendy Cope is a poet of modern times. She was born in Erith, Kent. She spent fifteen years teaching primary school in London after graduating from college. She has published five collections of her poems: Making Cocoa for Kingsley Amis in 1986, Serious Concerns in 1992, If I Don’t Know in 2001, Family Values in 2011, and Anecdotal Evidence in 2018. Her observation of the commonplace, everyday elements of life is exceptionally sharp, particularly when it comes to the emotions of the common man and daily life. I really like her poem, The Orange.

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 the jobs on my list
And enjoyed them and had some time over.
I love you. I’m glad I exist.
— The Orange, Wendy Cope  (This lovely poem is from Cope’s 1992 collection Serious Concerns.)

Wendy Cope herself tells the story about how she came to write this poem.

“In the early 1980s, I was a teacher seconded to County Hall, working on a newspaper published by the Inner London Education Authority. After I left that job, I regularly met my ex-colleagues Robert and Dave for lunch, often on the South Bank. On the day of The Orange, which would have been around 1989, I think we were in the café of the National Film Theatre. I saw the outsized orange and put it on my tray, although I hardly ever eat oranges. The rest of the story is in the poem, which I probably wrote that evening.”

“Robert died in 2014. I’m still friends with Dave.”

This poem teaches us to value and cherish the small pleasures and joys of daily life, especially during difficult times. It portrays an ordinary moment between friends sharing a piece of fruit. The poem celebrates the beauty of the mundane moments that make up our lives, and this simple yet profound message always brings a smile to my face whenever I read it.

“This is peace and contentment. It’s new.” This makes me consider the writer’s healing journey, which hints towards their past experiences with darkness. At certain points, The Orange seems to evoke a moment that the narrator would not have been able to experience in the past.

“I love you. I’m glad I exist.” This phrase is really simple yet so powerful that it can make me cry. I’m grateful that such a heartfelt poem exists in the world. It is about how, when we are in love and are “glad we exist,” the little everyday things, like buying an orange and sharing it with friends or going for a stroll in the park, may bring us happiness.

For me, The Orange is a poem full of hope. This poem conveys immense gratitude and emphasizes the importance of friendship, sharing, and cherishing the things we have in life. The narrator does not expect every day to be as simple as the one described in the poem, but it feels like a turning point. The calm after the storm, a realization that she possesses a sense of stability within herself that she didn’t have before. Such a realization might help her to endure difficult times in the future.

It takes effort to truly know someone. You have to work through their exterior to discover their hearts, minds, and souls. True friendship and intimacy are about accepting and loving people for who they are. The writer expresses the simplicity of loving others and the joy of doing small things for them. It’s as if she is saying that without something as simple as peeling an orange for someone, how can she truly express her love for them?

Often in life, we become consumed by the stress of managing our homes, hospitals, lives, and families all at once. We forget that life can be plain and simple. We have limited time on this planet, so we should prioritize things that bring us peace of mind, purpose, and joy. The doctors of the 21st century are under a lot of stress, busy making money, worrying about their future, and not taking a break. But what about the small pleasures of life?

I had no idea how determined I was to prove my worth in the world when I started medical school, my internship, my work as a medical officer, and the years I spent in residency – roughly the past twelve years. However, now I regret working so hard because it caused me to miss out on important things. I was always under pressure to keep working, and I realized that the majority of doctors sacrifice their playfulness and joy, being driven by unconscious needs, just to validate their existence. Joy and happiness are vital, and being heard and seen is important. Loving and being loved in return is so important. Looking back, I wouldn’t choose to spend my life this way if I could go back and change it.

I have an undying love for this poem because it captures the pure joy of being alive perfectly. As someone who has experienced loneliness and darkness for too long, I can relate to the peace and contentment that comes with freshness. I am gradually discovering what happiness feels like by accepting it with an open heart, even in the small things. The poem’s serenity is what makes it so beautiful to me, and it’s a set of words that will stay with me for the rest of my life.

Damane Zehra is a radiation oncology resident in Pakistan.


Source link

About The Author

Scroll to Top