This blog is for everyone who uses words.

The ordinary-sized words are for everyone, but the big ones are especially for children.



Saturday, 12 July 2014

Saturday Rave: Not "To a Fat Lady Seen from the Train" by Frances Cornford.

There are, heaven knows, plenty of bad poets in the world,  and Frances Cornford isn't one of them. I could quite easily rave about her guitar-tuning poem.

And I might do, before long.

Having said that, there's a poem of hers I've disliked very much for...ooh, longer than you've been alive, probably.

It's called "To a Fat Lady Seen from the Train" and it goes like this.

O why do you walk through the fields in gloves,
Missing so much and so much?
O fat white woman whom nobody loves,
Why do you walk through the fields in gloves,
When the grass is soft as the breast of doves
And shivering-sweet to the touch?
O why do you walk through the fields in gloves,
Missing so much and so much?


It's a wonderful, vivid poem, and it's a curiously memorable one, too, especially the O fat white woman whom nobody loves, line; but still my sympathies have always been entirely on the side of the fat white woman. Why is the poet so sure no one loves her? And what's wrong with wearing gloves? Perhaps the poor woman had cold hands, or new gloves, or had been gardening and couldn't be bothered to scrub her nails.

In any case, unless she has the arms of a chimpanzee she's unlikely to touch the grass as she walks along, however soft and feathery it is.

Missing so much and so much...

What else did the fat woman miss apart from the feel of the grass?

I'm not sure. But I bet it wasn't half so much as some smug poet screaming past in a train.

Word To Use Today: fat. This word comes from the Old English fǣtan, which means to cram.

PS Another poet, and a famously fat one, G. K. Chesterton, wrote a poem called "The Fat Lady Answers”. It's not half as good a poem as the original, but I do think its heart is in the right place.
Why do you rush through the field in trains,
Guessing so much and so much?
Why do you flash through the flowery meads,
Fat-head poet that nobody reads;

And why do you know such a frightful lot
About people in gloves as such?
And how the devil can you be sure,
Guessing so much and so much,
How do you know but what someone who loves
Always to see me in nice white gloves
At the end of the field you are rushing by,
Is waiting for his Old Dutch?


I know she's not fat, but that's because she's squeezed herself into a corset especially for the wedding. Bless her.


 



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