Wendy Cope

New Season by Wendy Cope (born 1945) is taken from Serious Concerns (Faber 1992) which was her second collection of verse, the first being Making Cocoa for Kingsley Amis (Faber 1986). I was given Serious Concerns by a customer when I worked in Birmingham in the late 90s and I went on to buy the first collection on the strength of reading it. Attentive readers will recall that I included one of Wendy Cope’s seasonal verses as an Advent post last year. If I was to try to sum up Cope’s work, I couldn’t do better than Dr Rowan Williams who said “Wendy Cope is without doubt the wittiest of contemporary English poets, and says a lot of extremely serious things”.

It was very difficult to make a selection from Serious Concerns, but finally I plumped for this one because it serves to remind me of life’s endless possibilities. It is something that we all probably need reminding of from time to time; I know I do. It is slightly late in the season to use this one, as the chestnuts are already in leaf, but I hope you will overlook that minor technicality.

New Season

book jacket with teddy bear

I also love the jacket..

No coats today. Buds bulge on chestnut trees,
and on the doorstep of a big, old house
a young man stands and plays his flute.

I watch the silver notes fly up
and circle in blue sky above the traffic,
travelling where they will.

And suddenly this paving-stone
midway between my front door and the bus stop
is a starting-point.

From here I can go anywhere I choose.

Of course I also just wanted an excuse to feature the Posy Simmonds drawing of the very studious bear on the front cover. I think that you will find almost as many illustrators as poets mentioned on The Landing this month. But then that can’t be a bad thing, can it?

If you liked this poem here is more information on her work from the Poetry Archive web site.


Advent Reading Challenge: Wendy Cope

December 11th

The Christmas Life by Wendy Cope (taken from The Book of Christmas edited by Fiona Waters and mentioned in a previous post). This poem was previously published in If I Don’t Know (Faber).

I have been a fan of Wendy Cope’s verse for a long time, since someone gave me a present of Serious Concerns (Faber) when I worked in a Birmingham bookshop in the 1990s.

This festive poem celebrates the zest and spirit of Christmas: the living greenery brought inside the house with its hint of spring to come; bright colours on the tree; memories both happy and sad and the hopefulness of a new beginning for all of us.

Here are the first and last verses:

Decorated Christmas Tree

All Kinds of Everything…


Bring in a tree, a young Norwegian spruce,

Bring hyacinths that rooted in the cold,

Bring winter jasmine as its buds unfold,

Bring the Christmas life into this house.

Bring in the shepherd boy, the ox and ass,

Bring in the stillness of an icy night,

Bring in a birth, of hope and love and light,

Bring the Christmas life into this house.

I hope that you are enjoying these Advent snippets of poetry and prose both old and fairly new. It has proved to be an enjoyable writing and reading challenge for me and I am re-discovering many old favourites along the way.

(photo: Chris Mills)

Until tomorrow…