1st DATE-SHE/ 1st DATE_HE (1st date- he (Straight away you will be able to…
1st DATE-SHE/ 1st DATE_HE
Wendy Cope is a contemporary poet who was born in Kent in 1945. Her poems are mostly light hearted and involve a lot of humour. They can be witty and sarcastic. She has a created a persona called Jason Strugnell who is a struggling poet and sometimes writes in this persona. Cope has an OBE and has won several awards for her poetry including the Cholmondeley Award which has been won by several high profile poets such as Seamus Heaney.
form & tone
First Date is effectively two poems that are connected. The first poem is four stanzas long. Each stanza contains four lines with the second and fourth line rhyming. This gives the poem a nice rhythm and helps to emphasise the gentle comic tone. The second poem is six stanzas long but mirrors the pattern of the first poem. This is unsurprising given that the two narrators mirror each others feelings to an extent.
1st date- she
In this first stanza the narrator talks about why she said she liked classical music. It’s clear from this first stanza that she is trying to impress her date, to make him think that she is cultured and classy. I’d suggest that she doesn’t like lying but only sees it as a little “white” lie. The evidence for this is she tries to justify it by saying it wasn’t “exactly” a lie.
The second stanza seems to be the woman describing how she muddled through the conversation about her views on classical music. There is a sense of dramatic irony here, once you have read both poems that becomes very clear. It would appear she knows enough to be able to muddle through as she can name a couple of famous composers. The final line of the stanza about sitting in the “half-dark” seems dismissive, like she isn’t exactly enjoying the experience.
It is quite clear in the third stanza that she is in to her male counterpart. When she says she was thrilled to be asked to the concert I don’t think she is being sarcastic (Although it certainly could be construed that way.) I think this line is used to emphasise that whilst she doesn’t like the music she is pleased to have the mans company. She does claim she is listening intently though. This again points to the fact that she clearly wants to impress this guy.
The glancing at his face once, in the fourth stanza, again, shows that she is seemingly keen on this fella. However it would appear she’s having that feeling a person can sometimes get on a first date where they don’t think the other person is really into them. I think the line “quite undistracted by me.” Is supposed to be read in a disappointed fashion. Having said that, the previous line seems like it may be the narrator showing their disappointment too.
1st date- he
Straight away you will be able to see a pattern here. The first stanza of the second poem almost completely mirrors the sentiments from the first two lines of the first poem. It therefore becomes clear that the man too is lying about a love for classical music and not unlike his female counterpart he tries to suggest that it was only partially a lie. He also tries to calm his guilt by suggesting he only implied he liked classical music.
It is clear from the tone of this second stanza that the date has started in a manner that can only be described as less-then-successful. Any first date where you turn up late is probably a bad one. This act in itself is possibly part of the reason the woman senses that the man is dis-interested in her.
Again the third stanza is a stanza that mirrors part of the first poem. The man begins by saying that he hasn’t had much chance to talk with his date, but then finishes by pointing out that she doesn’t seem particularly interested in him. However we have yet to see the man suggest that he is really interested in the women yet. The woman was more explicit early in her poem, making it obvious she wanted to make a good impression.
In the fourth stanza, it become quite clear that the man does indeed desire the woman. His description of her in the first two lines of the stanza are very complimentary and create an image of, for want of a better word, a sexy lady. This is classic dramatic irony. He is clearly flustered by the fact that she is attractive and starts to worry that she is out of his league, I.e too good for him. He uses the word besotted which is quite a powerful way of describing his emotions. The irony here is he is trying to play it cool so as to not put her off, but judging by her comments she thinks he is disinterested as a result of this.
In the fifth stanza, clearly, the man has spent too much time with his thoughts (this is probably why he looks like he is “picture of rapt concentration”) and glances at his program only to realise that he hasn’t even got his glasses on. He finishes by saying that he needs to pay attention or he won’t have anything to say, once again mirroring the woman.
"i said i liked classical music"
as we know, this is not true so by repeating that line it emphasises how little she really knows about classical music and so she is trying to persuade herself into believing she likes classical music but it also foreshadows how the date is going to go with her not enjoying it.
"i hoped he would get the impression//that my brow was acceptably high"
"the traffic was dreadful this evening//and i arrived ten minutes late"
showing his free flow of thoughts and how he was worried
"she is totally lost in the music//and quite undistracted by me"
"i'd better start paying attention//or else ill have nothing to say"