Wendy Cope wrote the poem below in response to viewing a painting of the same name by surrealist artist Giorgio de chirico . Here is an image of the painting. The statue is the torso of Aphrodite (and a link to more detail).
The Uncertainty of the Poet (by Wendy Cope)
I have annotated her lines with my comments.
I am a poet,
I am very fond of bananas.
Wendy Cope is a poet and by the look of things she very much likes bananas. Now this poem was written in conjunction with the above painting – a female statue and a hand of bananas. So we could easily equate the first sentence response with these objects.
I am bananas,
I am very fond of a poet.
Personifying bananas is certainly very poetic … and from the bananas point of view they are very touched by her fondness – a strong two-fold link.
I am a poet of bananas.
Indeed she is a poet of bananas … just as the artist portrayed bananas in his work.
I am very fond.
… perhaps she considers herself very loving, affectionate, caring
A fond poet of ‘I am, I am’ –
… it is very true that many poets are ‘very fond I am’ sort of people … but the next phrase denigrates any infatuation
Fond of ‘Am I bananas?
… and to stress the point such fondness for herself could send her … well you know where bananas will take you!
Am I? – a very poet.
Well I certainly think she is a ‘very poet’! … but it’s always good to question oneself and indeed ask it of others!
Bananas of a poet!
Am I fond? Am I very?
The thought of being bananas of a poet … well that certainly needs an exclamation mark. But is she caring? … is she very (caring)? … well we have uncertainty … the uncertainty of person as well as poet
Poet bananas! I am
Forget poetry – ‘I am’ and that’s what matters! – how true
I am fond of a ‘very’.
She perhaps is one of those rare persons who always likes doing her best!
I am of very fond bananas.
In a poetic sense this statement is so true!
Am I a poet?
This question must be answered by the reader!
There are only eight unique words in the entire poem – a wonderful play on words – perhaps a little ‘dadaism’ is in evidence.
My thoughts on looking at the painting … there are obviously two key objects … one representing ‘Art’ (and I will include poetry under that label – especially given the title of the painting) … the other very much down to earth … day to day living – something we can easily digest and recognise. Something we can internalise in a very real way but disappears from sight very quickly. The torso as an artistic object is more permanent but more difficult to digest (excuse the pun). And indeed what can be more permanent than the manifestation of love represented by the torso of Aphrodite. The artist/poet is always uncertain on how his or her art will be received and always uncertain about the quality of work and about living up to any personal expectations.