A Romantic Moment–Gone far wrong or beyond right?

2 Dec

A Romantic Moment—Gone far wrong or beyond right?


Among the eight-poem collection that the class read, including I Have News for You, Poor Britney Spears, and Not Renouncing, I was most fascinated by one particular poem by Tony Hoagland: A Romantic Moment. The poem graced me as a parody on the commonly addressed topic of love, however, it differed from the bunch in its utility of personification and comic relief.

A Romantic Moment was one of the few poems that made me honestly laugh out loud. Hoagland’s piece takes place on an awkward second date between a man and a woman.  This romantic encounter appears to unroll after the couple has seen a nature documentary on mating habits of animals. Hoagland brilliantly personifies the countless creatures prevalent in the nature documentary.  In this way, the reader gets a thirteen-stanza taste of the content of the male individual’s mind whom is sitting across from his female counterpart. This man cannot seem to stay tuned into the in depth conversation that the woman believes she is intertwined in. Instead of listening to their conversation, the man is going through countless scenarios in which the animals that they hard recently learned about get ‘down to business’. They were on their second date and all they were doing was holding hands; however, if he was a “bull penguin…(he) would lean over and vomit softly into the mouth of (his) beloved”.

This is particular was hilarious and interesting to me because it gives a reader an insight into the obscure ways of the male mind and the human race.  Hoagland not only portrays the male’s mind as wandering but also introduces the unusual ways of mankind. While some may believe that “vomit(ting) softly into the mouth of one’s beloved” or “wrapping one’s impressive tongue” around a partner’s thigh is weird, in reality, it is humans who are the strange ones. As humans, we involve ourselves in too much emotion and even on this second date, the couple still feels uncomfortable looking at each other; where as, an inanimate couple may have had grandchildren by then.

Though comical, Hoagland teaches an important lesson in his poem. By the end, the couple takes a simpler approach—one learned from their animal counterparts. The woman “remarks that in the relative context of tortoises and iguanas, human males seem to be actually rather expressive” and the man responds that “female crocodiles really don’t receive enough credit for their gentleness”. In this peculiar way, complimenting the opposite sex’s animal associates brings the couple closer together.  Finally, Hoagland ends the poem with the couple going to “do something personal, hidden, and human”. He not only achieves his goal superbly, but also teaches the reader a lesson through a couple that, in fact, learned from animals in a documentary.


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