In the category of things that are not quite right…

June 12, 2009

It is with a degree of trepidation that I cross the threshold of the library today… because I am carrying a packet of STRAWBERRY jaffa cakes. Things could go badly wrong at Friday tea-break-time. They are surely going to be in the category of things are are just not quite right.

Maybe? Maybe not? The strawberry jaffa cake.

Maybe? Maybe not? The strawberry jaffa cake.

Of course there’s nothing wrong with strawberries. Edwin Morgan gets it absolutely right in his poem ‘Strawberries‘ – right down to that perfect last line: ‘let the storm wash the plates’. (We have lovely free postcards of this poem by the way – drop in to get some or we can post them to you.)

Dare I say that a good poem is like an original jaffa cake (orange), and that a not-so-good one is maybe (they’ve yet to be tasted of course) more like a strawberry jaffa cake. Some poems are just perfect – all the ingredients blend together to create something greater than the sum, something that lingers in the mind for ages. Others just don’t. Those good poems – happy accidents? Or more likely incredible skill hiding behind apparent simplicity.

Last lines – are they the hardest part of the poem to get right? Poets out there, tell us please. The challenge of bringing a poem to a close, yet quietly leaving it open for the reader. I’m reminded of the story of Robert Frost and the ending of his poem ‘Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening’. I hope I’ve not imagined this – correct me if I’m wrong. But I believe he was writing the poem and didn’t know how to end it, so just to fill the space of the last line of the last stanza temporarily he repeated the third line of that stanza: ‘And miles to go before I sleep.’ But somehow that sounded right, and he never did change it. And how could it be any other way now?

We’ll let you know how the strawberry jaffa cakes tasted later maybe…


4 Responses to “In the category of things that are not quite right…”

  1. Lilias Says:

    Well I dunno, Julie – what if the strawberry jaffacakes are astoundingly successful? If they provide the surprise and shock and admiration for something that, set in our orange-jaffa-loving ways, we firmly thought shouldn’t be up to much, but turns out to be a knockout? Hm?

    Although of course you’re right on both, it might just piggybacking an earlier and truly innovative work. I confess lime jaffa cakes didn’t really work for me. You should probably open the packet now and see what you think. Go on. With a fly cup. You’re getting a little bit hungry, aren’t you? Lovely jaffa cakes…

    Miles to go before you eat.

  2. spl5 Says:

    I’m with Lilias. Apple and mars bar sandwiches shouldn’t work, but they do. Christmas cake and wensleydale. The mad cap melodies of Laura Dockrill, Lorraine Mariner or Albert Goldbarth. Totally, madly works.

    Have you tried? Oh wait: I could shout over at you. You’re only feet away. Still…

  3. […] … imminent tasting of strawberry Jaffa Cakes […]

  4. Come on, you’ve got to tell us how they went down, Julie. The world wants to know: were there never strawberries like those?

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