Happy Endings in Classic Fiction

Day 3 of NaPoWriMo/GloPoWriMo2018 and I am feeling a tad flat. It’s rainy and the temperatures are hovering just above freezing. I truly would rather be baking cookies for the guys at Toastmasters tonight. Today’s prompt is a list poem and usually I LOVE list poems, but today the prompt is not really doing it for me. What I can say of my effort today is that I took out my pen, my notebook and tried to string together words, although I am doubtful that it qualifies as poetry. This is the prompt from napowrimo.net:

Today’s prompt (optional as always), is inspired by our interview with Peter Davis. As he indicates there, his latest book is rooted in endlessly writing ideas for band names. Today, we challenge you to try this out yourself by writing a list poem in which all the items are made-up names. If band names don’t inspire, how about a list of titles for romantic novels? Or new television cop dramas? They can be as over-the-top as you like, because that’s (at least) half the fun.

I did attempt a Regency Romance theme, but stopped with “Trumpet Fanfare for a Strumpet , Nell Gwynne Goes Holyrood, Red Coat Romance (where bodices fall since gussets didn’t exist.” You can thank me for abandoning that. Your welcome!

And as no other option turned up, what my  mind did turn to was a conversation with a recently departed houseguest. We were trying to enumerate examples in classic literature that had happy endings.

Happy Endings in Classic Literary Fiction

With winter still here and the cattle chawing fodder

we reckoned once we shot the Austen canon

(our favourites Pride & Prejudice, but let us not

forget Anne Elliot in Persuasion) pickings were slim

We furrowed our feminist brows, dismissing

“Dear Reader, I married him”

As not meeting some essential criterion for bliss


Dickens could make ’em laugh as well as cry

A Christmas Carol, for instance

ends on a happy note

David Copperfield wises up

Pip is rewarded with his Great Expectations

But sadly Sidney Carton lets the side down

since beheading put a pall on reading proceedings


It’s become a bit of a grail quest

after reviewing high school set text lists

Tolkien makes many internet lists

Otherwise we may be forced

An exhumation order for Trollope

plying his pen, ranging round Irish Districts

for the Post Office

Although the Irish RM nods to him

Otherwise most other Irish classics

tend towards the grim

with the possible exception of

Flann O’Brien



So we broadened our definition of classic

To allow more modern editions

20th century happy being perhaps more

life-affirming than feeling joy filled

but light-hearted would be a welcome addition

a brace of Jeeves, a dash of Wimsey

or the redemption of Ida Doom

from the woodshed on Cold Comfort Farm


Blog hits include The Shipping News by Proux

which I will admit

As does Homer’s Odyssey

which may just go to prove

that the trick of happy endings

is for love to conquer all

and that there is no place like home

but you need to journey out

to journey back in

not at all unlike Tom Sawyer

and his friend Huckleberry Finn


©Bee Smith 2018






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