Engineers’ Corner by Wendy Cope
Why isn’t there an Engineers’ Corner in Westminster Abbey? In Britain we’ve always made more fuss of a ballad than a blueprint … How many schoolchildren dream of becoming great engineers?
— advertisement placed in The Times by the Engineering Council
We make more fuss of ballads than of blueprints —
That’s why so many poets end up rich,
While engineers scrape by in cheerless garrets.
Who needs a bridge or dam? Who needs a ditch?
Whereas the person who can write a sonnet
Has got it made. It’s always been the way,
For everybody knows that we need poems
And everybody reads them every day.
Yes, life is hard if you choose engineering —
You’re sure to need another job as well;
You’ll have to plan your projects in the evenings
Instead of going out. It must be hell.
While well-heeled poets ride around in Daimlers,
You’ll burn the midnight oil to earn a crust,
With no hope of a statue in the Abbey,
With no hope, even, of a modest bust.
No wonder small boys dream of writing couplets
And spurn the bike, the lorry and the train.
There’s far too much encouragement for poets —
That’s why this country’s going down the drain.
`Engineer’s Corner’, from Making Cocoa for Kingsley Amis by Wendy Cope, © Wendy Cope 1986