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7 Apr 2006

The Fat-Head Poet That Nobody Reads.

Written by sally @ 9:20 am — Section: national poetry month,sally

I’m reading A.J. Jacobs’ The Know-It-All: One Man’s Humble Quest to Become the Smartest Person in the World, and yesterday I read the entry for Darwin, George (Charles Darwin’s son). The entry also mentioned that Frances Cornwell, Darwin’s granddaughter, was a poet. I thought it only apt that I should let you read her famous poem.

To a Fat Lady Seen From the Train
– Frances Cornwell (1886-1960)

O why do you walk through the fields in gloves,
Missing so much and so much?
O fat white woman whom nobody loves,
Why do you walk through the fields in gloves,
When the grass is soft as the breast of doves
And shivering sweet to the touch?
O why do you walk through the fields in gloves,
Missing so much and so much?

Again, I long for the days where you could write a crap poem and be remembered for it. I also found this response by G.K. Chesterton:

The Fat White Woman Speaks

Why do you rush through the field in trains,
Guessing so much and so much?
Why do you flash through the flowery meads,
Fat-head poet that nobody reads;
And why do you know such a frightful lot
About people in gloves as such?
And how the devil can you be sure,
Guessing so much and so much,
How do you know but what someone who loves
Always to see me in nice white gloves
At the end of the field you are rushing by,
Is waiting for his Old Dutch?

I will admit I don’t know what that last line means. Can I get some help?

One Response to “The Fat-Head Poet That Nobody Reads.”

  1. gorjus said:

    Hee. I heart both of these poems, actually–to the heavy-handedness of Ms. Cornwell’s (“you are bloated by materialism and you cannot stand the touch of nature”), to the perfect rejoinder by Mr. Chesterton (“you’re in a frickin’ train, you frickin’ snob”).

    I’m trying to parse the line. I think it comes out thusly:

    His girlfriend, or “the woman who loves [him],” always comes to see him in her best clothes—her “nice white gloves.” He is waiting for her at the end of the field. “Old Dutch” is is Cockney rhyming slang (!!!) for “my wife.” It’s actually abbreviated slang–”my wife” becomes “Duchess of Fife,” which was further corrupted to “Old Dutch.”

    I saw the phrase referenced as “London slang,” and that dovetails with the home base of Mr. Chesterton. The first poem was published in 1915, and his riposte saw the light of day in 1933 (three years before Mr. Chesterton’s death). For further dorkiness, understand that my primary knowledge of Chesterton comes from a fictional character in a comic book who was based on him (okay, actually a dream made landscape who took his identity) (not kidding).