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?
SPONSORED FEATURES
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Clinical Lead / RGN

£40000 - £42000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: IT Sales Consultant

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT support company has a n...

Recruitment Genius: Works Engineer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A works engineer is required in a progressive ...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Hire Manager - Tool Hire

£21000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our client is seeking someone w...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

I don't blame parents who move to get their child into a good school

Chris Blackhurst
William Hague, addresses delegates at the Conservative party conference for the last time in his political career in Birmingham  

It’s only natural for politicians like William Hague to end up as journalists

Simon Kelner
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent
Markus Persson: If being that rich is so bad, why not just give it all away?

That's a bit rich

The billionaire inventor of computer game Minecraft says he is bored, lonely and isolated by his vast wealth. If it’s that bad, says Simon Kelner, why not just give it all away?
Euro 2016: Chris Coleman on course to end half a century of hurt for Wales

Coleman on course to end half a century of hurt for Wales

Wales last qualified for major tournament in 1958 but after several near misses the current crop can book place at Euro 2016 and end all the indifference
Rugby World Cup 2015: The tournament's forgotten XV

Forgotten XV of the rugby World Cup

Now the squads are out, Chris Hewett picks a side of stars who missed the cut
A groundbreaking study of 'Britain's Atlantis' long buried at the bottom of the North Sea could revolutionise how we see our prehistoric past

Britain's Atlantis

Scientific study beneath North Sea could revolutionise how we see the past
The Queen has 'done and said nothing that anybody will remember,' says Starkey

The Queen has 'done and said nothing that anybody will remember'

David Starkey's assessment
Oliver Sacks said his life has been 'an enormous privilege and adventure'

'An enormous privilege and adventure'

Oliver Sacks writing about his life
'Gibraltar is British, and it is going to stay British forever'

'Gibraltar is British, and it is going to stay British forever'

The Rock's Chief Minister hits back at Spanish government's 'lies'
Britain is still addicted to 'dirty coal'

Britain still addicted to 'dirty' coal

Biggest energy suppliers are more dependent on fossil fuel than a decade ago
Orthorexia nervosa: How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition

Orthorexia nervosa

How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition
Lady Chatterley is not obscene, says TV director

Lady Chatterley’s Lover

Director Jed Mercurio on why DH Lawrence's novel 'is not an obscene story'
Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests

Set a pest to catch a pest

Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests