Wendy Cope compiles poems of joy, pleasure and contentment from a range of authors including Betjeman who regales us with seaside golf, Simon Armitage (on a cricket catch), Carol Ann Duffy (about a sleeping child) and Seamus Heaney (on a rain stick).
As with any anthology of different authors I enjoyed some more than others. Unexpected delights included Connie Bensley's poem 'Soothsayer', a hymn to the tainted pleasures of shopping and the power of good lingerie. Christopher Reid's poem 'The South' captures the bliss of a sun-soaked holiday. Many of these poems have an ecstatic religious tone and I struggled with these, but Paul Durcan's account of a Father's Day Mass achieved a hard-won state of transcendence through earthbound humanity and consciousness.
by Connie Bensley
I'm sure you will be very happy with this bra, Madam,
She said, her manicure seriously red as she tapped the till.
Of course I did not ask her how she knew.
Who is rude enough to challenge the clairvoyant,
the diagnostician, the prognosticator?
But she was right. As soon as she folded up
the lacy garmet - its ticket swinging insouciantly -
and handed it across the counter
in its raspberry-pink bag, my spirits rose.
Outside, traffic parted for me like the Red Sea:
the sun appeared and gilded passers-by
who nervously returned my random smiles.
The days, the weeks, wore on in a numinous haze
of goodwill. Who knows why? Be cynical if you must:
I only record the sequence of events.