Two poems about soap

In my last or second-last year at Mountjoy School, that is, around the age of fifteen or sixteen, I wrote some poems in my jotter on the subject of soap. I am surprised to find I still remember them.

Sope—the magic word again
Gives me hope of sopehope
And sohope I cope in hopucopusope

Peter Pope picked up a bar of sope
This, says Yaya, is purity and hope

(The last line refers to Gerard Hoffnung’s Punkt Kontra Punkt, where two German musicologists discuss a piece of twelve-tone music by ‘Bruno Heinz Jaja’. One of them says he ‘never attempted, like some of the Frrrrrench composers, to use thirteen tones. This, says Jaja, is the Baker’s Dozen—the Nadia du Boulanger.’ Ah, Hoffnung!)

Poem no 2
If I were a bar of soap
I’d fight the germs with all my scope
And I know that I could cope
For germs are seen with microscope

In the washroom people grope
Inside their bags for bars of soap
And will they be discouraged? Nope!
For people fill them up with dope
Proclaiming the delights of soap

12 Responses to “Two poems about soap”

  1. Aoife Says:


  2. samwell Says:

    soap! sope? you remembered this? why do i get slagged about the dead cow and you get away with this?

  3. recumbentman Says:

    Ah the dead cow. Well I never showed these to anyone before, so I suppose the slagging starts here.

  4. malo Says:

    when I was young I wore odd socks
    my mother called me Goldilocks
    and locked me in a wooden box
    but now I just eat string.

    That was the poem (more or less) that I wrote at Michael’s office when given permission to print something on the (enormous) computer. I remember the secretary delivering it to him with a quizzical look. Maybe I was 12-ish?

    • recumbentman Says:

      That’s the style! Thank you for reminding me of that.

      Your little rhyme has the poetic quality I associate with Edward Lear, as in for instance

      O! My aged Uncle Arly! –
      Sitting on a heap of Barley
      All the silent hours of night, –
      Close beside a leafy thicket: –
      On his nose there was a Cricket, –
      In his hat a Railway-Ticket; –
      (But his shoes were far too tight.)

      He’s guided by the sound of the words, and accordingly the meanings are sometimes slightly unfortunate. Happens with a lot of serious poetry too. It’s what Wittgenstein called the bewitchment of language. We are inclined to think something must be right just because it sounds so right.

      Verse Six of Uncle Arly has a Beckettish ring to it:

      So for three-and-forty winters,
      Till his shoes were worn to splinters,
      All those hills he wander’d o’er, –
      Sometimes silent; – sometimes yelling; –
      Till he came to Borley-Melling,
      Near his old ancestral dwelling;–
      – And he wander’d thence no more.

      (Curiously, Beckett was also known to wear shoes that were far too tight, supposedly in emulation of Joyce’s neat footwear.)

      Lear and Carroll may have been drawn to nonsense in response to the offences done to language in contemporary poetry. I know that at school I was silently outraged by what appeared to me as self-indulgent twaddle from Gerard Manley Hopkins:

      Margaret, are you grieving
      Over Goldengrove unleaving?
      Leaves, like the things of man, you
      With your fresh thoughts care for, can you?
      Ah! as the heart grows older
      It will come to such sights colder
      By & by, nor spare a sigh
      Though worlds of wanwood leafmeal lie

      (Pet Hate No. 3)

  5. samwell Says:

    that’s more like it

  6. midoro Says:

    Ya Ya was mum’s pet name for the Boss

  7. recumbentman Says:

    Yes, I’d forgotten that.

  8. willy Says:

    Yaya means grandmother over here – seems inappropriate for the Boss, but there you go…

    Sohope is a construct that I’m sure any adult poet would be proud of; but I agree with Sam, the comment linking Lear, Carroll and Manly Hopkins is…more like it. Or should I say – More like that!

    good work – w

  9. recumbentman Says:

    I’m sure J will love being called Yaya. For the Boss it was a childish approximation to Dada, I gather, long before I was born.

  10. Aoife Says:

    Yaya! Mum will adore that! She always hoped Fiachra’s Jaja (more like zja zja, how do you spell that sound? zh, dzj?) would catch on but somehow it didn’t, unlike Doda for Clodagh.

  11. Aoife Says:

    Ha ha Sam, “The cow is dead”.

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