Differences of Opinion, by Wendy Cope

I was discussing poetry with a friend of mine and she sent me this short poem, which I instantly adored.

He tells her

He tells her that the earth is flat

He knows the facts, and that is that

In altercations fierce and long

She tries her best to prove him wrong

But he has learned to argue well

He calls her arguments unsound

And often asks her not to yell

She cannot win, he stands his ground

The planet goes on being round.

I found that it resonated strongly with me, bringing memories of debates with characters that I’m sure everyone has met at some point in time.

The phrase ‘immoveable object vs unstoppable force’ comes to mind at times when conversing with these characters, and that last sentence is the part which really sings to me in this very short, to the point, poem about debating with someone who is unable to conceive of the idea that they might be wrong.

“The planet goes on being round.”

The knowledge that the truth does not bend to the determination of the electively deaf is both reassuring and highly amusing to me. It reminds me that the reality of the situation does not depend on my ability to teach somebody else to use their ears, and that they can choose to remain ignorant if they choose. It simply isn’t my concern.

It also helps to ease the frustration that you inevitably feel when faced with somebody who has honed their debating skills far more than their critical thinking. I have read this poem over and over until I am convinced that I could recite it backwards; a skill which may come in useful in maintaining my composure in certain unfortunately inevitable circumstances.

There is another important point to be heard in this poem; It is not only a balm to the eternally frustrated, but a reminder to us all to listen to the person we are debating with. A conversation is not a conversation if both sides are only interested in swaying their counterpart to their own viewpoint, disregarding the possibility that they may learn something themselves from that conversation.

“When you talk you are only repeating what you already know. But if you listen, you may learn something new.”

Dalai Lama

Please see below for further poetry pieces;

Writing about Poetry

Published by BeckyBookBlog

My name is Becky and I run a blog about Books

One thought on “Differences of Opinion, by Wendy Cope

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: