Cope – a poem by Naomi Marklew


To cope: from kolaphos, ‘blow with the fist’
via Latin, Old French to Middle English,
to cope: to meet in battle, come to blows.

To cope: to struggle on fairly even terms,
or with some success; or, to handle;
to withstand; to match oneself against.

To cope: to barter, trade, exchange, from the
now obsolete meaning ‘to traffic’, used
in North Sea Trade, from the Flemish version
of the Germanic source of the English word
for ‘cheap’; to make return for, to requite.

To cope: to cut and form a mitred joint.

To cope: to clip or dull the beak or talons
of a hawk, from the French couper, ‘to cut’.

Cope (noun): the cape-like vestments of a priest;
the sky (Milton’s ‘starry cope of heaven’);
the covering course of a sloping wall;
in foundry, the top of a sand casting mould.


Naomi Marklew lives in Durham in the North of England, where she moved to study poetry in 2007. She writes poems and blogs at

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