A Bookshop Idyll, Kingsley Amis
Between the gardening and the cookery
Comes the brief poetry shelf;
By the Nonesuch Donne, a thin anthology
Critical, and with nothing else to do,
I scan the Contents page,
Relieved to find the names are mostly new;
No one my age.
Like all strangers, they divide by sex:
Landscape near Parma
Interests a man, so does The Double Vortex,
So does Rilke and Buddha.
‘I travel, you see’, ‘I think’ and ‘I can read’
These titles seem to say;
But I Remember You, Love is my Creed,
Poem for J.,
The ladies’ choice, discountenance my patter
For several seconds;
From somewhere in this (as in any) matter
A moral beckons.
Should poets bicycle-pump the human heart
Or squash it flat?
Man’s love is of man’s life a thing apart;
Girls aren’t like that.
We men have got love well weighed up; our stuff
Can get by without it.
Women don’t seem to think that’s good enough;
They write about it,
And the awful way their poems lay open
Just doesn’t strike them.
Women are really much nicer than men:
No wonder we like them.
Deciding this, we can forget those times
We sat up half the night
Chockfull of love, crammed with bright thoughts,
And couldn’t write.