Let me post a poem, till I write again

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


8 thoughts on “Let me post a poem, till I write again

  1. And its been a total opposite in our country with our generation.Enggs doctors and lawyers were the only so called real professions.Am glad times have changed and we seem to be finding a balance.I just hope we don’t tip off too.This poem was quite a refreshing read.

  2. Great read:-) As the person above me says, in India until very recently,you were an engineer or a doctor or a good-for nothing guy. Its heartening to know that people’s attitudes are changing:-)

  3. Ah, Cope. Always a pleasure.

    Am not sure your other commenters got the sarcasm though.

    This poem always reminds me of a glorious short story by Martin Amis which is set in a world where poetry is big business, managed by large studios, with poets themselves living in palatial bungalows in Beverly Hills, while film scripts are an obscure art form, finding publication only in specialist journals that no one reads but the scriptwriters themselves.

  4. I didn’t get the sarcasm as well:(. Then, thanks to falstaff, read it carefully again, and kicked myself.

  5. *sigh* Conflict-inducing poem. The poetry liker is a bit saddened, and the internal engineer is cringing 😦 It is a bit of a cheap potshot against engineers, so desu neh?


    Its actually all the B-school, hotshot manager types who are having all the fun! So why does Wendy have to take off on poor engineers?

    Ah me! Who’d have thunk that Ludwig would get so defensive about engineers…

  6. awesome satirical poem…though am an engineer…i can’t be biased…and the poem is ironic in the sense that its being a poet as a career thatis ridiculed and challenged…in the traditional indian society…times are changing though…and now you can be a dj or rj and be equally if not more successful!!!
    i like the articles onm your site…and would like to have a link to your site on my blog…
    as i am a novice in the blogworld…i wanted to know how it can be done…

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