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New Year’s Anxiety & ‘The Orange’: An Analysis

As the last month of 2022 begins and the promise of a whole new year is on the horizon, I can’t help but feel the familiar anxiety that comes with time passing. Feelings of mourning for the special moments that have passed, unsure if they were appreciated enough. All of the goals and resolutions I abandoned are sitting optimistically in a journal somewhere. This emotion is similar to crying on your birthday every year, knowing you’ll never be that age again, fearing all the new experiences you’ve yet to have. Whenever this worry inevitably rolls around, I look to my favorite poem, “The Orange” by Wendy Cope, for its quiet wisdom. 

The first stanza introduces our orange as the catalyst: “At lunchtime I bought a huge orange— / The size of it made us all laugh. / I peeled it and shared it with Robert and Dave— / They got quarters and I had a half.” The choice of a large orange being the subject of a poem immediately evokes certain imagery for me: sunshine, summertime, light, bright colors, even childhood. There is a joyful immaturity in laughing at the size of a fruit, and the small gesture of splitting it with friends is comforting in its stability. The speaker seems to echo my opinions in the second stanza. “And that orange, it made me so happy, / As ordinary things often do / Just lately. The shopping. A walk in the park. / This is peace and contentment. It’s new.” Peace and contentment, most of the time, are foreign concepts to me, like the ultimate goals in life are at a finish line that never stops moving further away. And at the end of the year especially, I find it hard to feel content, even more so in a society that celebrates constant hustle over tranquility.

The final stanza is beautiful in its simplicity and closes the poem like a warm embrace: “The rest of the day was quite easy. / I did all the jobs on my list. / And enjoyed them and had some time over. / I love you. I’m glad I exist.” There is a purity to the joy experienced over mundane tasks that inspires me to try and do the same. It seems reminiscent of the romanticizing your life troupe, but in simpler language and not like a social media trend that fades over time. What I believe Wendy Cope is trying to achieve with this poem is that being glad to exist, even just to enjoy fruit with friends, is enough. It does not have to be complicated or curated. It can be the accomplishment of clean laundry or the euphoria of belly-laughing with friends. I keep a written version of “The Orange” in the front of my journal as a source of motivation that I find much more effective than a new years resolution, and in 2023 I will definitely be doing the same.

My name is Tara and I’m a freshman here at Pace this year! My major is Communications and Media studies and my hometown is Denver, Colorado. I have a Harry Styles tattoo, so that’s all you really need to know about me!