Rhodri Marsden: Love poetry may seem like a good idea – but most of us can't do it

Life on Marsden

Share
Related Topics

Persuading someone that your romantic intentions are serious is a tricky business. If you're at the "persuasion" stage there's a good chance that they don't want your romantic intentions to be serious at all. They've probably got their fingers crossed that you're playing a practical joke. But you're in no mood for joking. The gifts you've carefully chosen – trinkets, bouquets, mixtapes, Boots vouchers – are testament to that. And if these don't convince them of your devotion, you still have one ace left to play. Poetry.

Love poetry can seem like a good idea. In theory it entwines your sensitive side with your creative streak in an exquisite, star-crossed union. But most of us are ill-equipped to take this on. We wouldn't rewire someone's house in an expression of lustful desire unless we were sure that the results wouldn't be catastrophic, and the same should go for poetry. My friend Kerry once received such a poem, a five-stanza attempt to get her naked ("which didn't work," she notes.) "The night was a horse," begins her valiant suitor, worryingly, "and the orphaned eels were crying, just like eels cry." Using the romantic symbolism of eels and horses is pretty brave, but not as brave as his next gambit: "I have embraced the eight hearts of a dead octopus." Whoah.

It's a terrible poem, but somehow heroic. We have language, this incredible resource, at our disposal to help us communicate with each other as best we can, and yet our romantic impulses force us to bend said language into ludicrous shapes to try and emulate Yeats, despite the chances of eventual ridicule hovering at around 95 per cent.

About 10 years ago I developed the habit of writing songs for women I liked, but threw in the towel shortly after coming up with the following highly ineffective couplet while suffering from a bad cold: "Tonight I'd like to date ya/So I'm swigging echinacea". You see, poetry only "works" if the recipient likes you already. It coerces no one. It's surplus to requirements.

So next time you stumble across a verse by Tennyson – "Now slides the silent meteor on, and leaves a shining furrow, as thy thoughts in me" – and think, "ooh, I could do that," and then find yourself sitting at your laptop thinking "Bloody hell, this is hard, I can't think of anything to rhyme with boobs," don't say I didn't warn you.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

The Jenrick Group: Maintenance Planner

£28000 - £32000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: Maintenance...

The Jenrick Group: World Wide PLC Service Engineer

£30000 - £38000 per annum + pesion + holidays: The Jenrick Group: World Wide S...

The Jenrick Group: Project Manager

£35000 per annum + Pension+Bupa: The Jenrick Group: We are recruiting for an e...

The Jenrick Group: Night Shift Operations Manager

£43500 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: Night Shift Operatio...

Day In a Page

Read Next
African elephants in Botswana photographed by television presenter Chris Packham  

We've made incredible progress, but there's still more to do to make sure we save the elephant

Hugo Campbell
Elton John and David Furnish finalise their marriage paperwork  

Don't be blinded by the confetti — the fight for marriage equality in the UK isn't over yet

Siobhan Fenton
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'