Image by Jason Bell

You're Beautiful

because you're classically trained.
I'm ugly because I associate piano wire with strangulation.

You're beautiful because you stop to read the cards in newsagents' windows
about lost cats and missing dogs.
I'm ugly because of what I did to that jellyfish with a lolly-stick and a big stone.

You're beautiful because for you, politeness is instinctive, not a marketing
campaign
I'm ugly because desperation is impossible to hide.

Ugly like he is,
Beautiful like hers,
Beautiful like Venus,
Ugly like his,
Beautiful like she is,
Ugly like Mars.

You're beautiful because you believe in coincidence and the power of thought.
I'm ugly because I proved God to be a mathematical impossibility.

You're beautiful because you prefer home-made soup to the packet stuff.
I'm ugly because once, at a dinner party,
I defended the aristocracy and wasn't even drunk.

You're beautiful because you can't work the remote control.
I'm ugly because of satellite television and twenty-four hour rolling news.

Ugly like he is,
Beautiful like hers,
Beautiful like Venus,
Ugly like his,
Beautiful like she is,
Ugly like Mars.

You're beautiful because you cry at weddings as well as funerals.
I'm ugly because I think of children as another species from a different world.

You're beautiful because you look great in any colour including red.
I'm ugly because I think shopping is strictly for the acquisition of material goods.

You're beautiful because when you were born, undiscovered planets
lined up to peep over the rim of your cradle and lay gifts of gravity and light
at your miniature feet.
I'm ugly for saying 'love at first sight' is another form of mistaken identity,
and that the most human of all responses is to gloat.

Ugly like he is,
Beautiful like hers,
Beautiful like Venus,
Ugly like his,
Beautiful like she is,
Ugly like Mars.

You're beautiful because you've never seen the inside of a car-wash.
I'm ugly because I always ask for a receipt.

You're beautiful for sending a box of shoes to the third world.
I'm ugly because I remember the telephone numbers of ex-girlfriends
and the year Schubert was born.

You're beautiful because you sponsored a parrot in a zoo.
I'm ugly because when I sigh it's like the slow collapse of a circus tent.

Ugly like he is,
Beautiful like hers,
Beautiful like Venus,
Ugly like his,
Beautiful like she is,
Ugly like Mars.

You're beautiful because you can point at a man in a uniform and laugh.
I'm ugly because I was a police informer in a previous life.

You're beautiful because you drink a litre of water and eat three pieces of fruit a
day.
I'm ugly for taking the line that a meal without meat is a beautiful woman with
one eye.

You're beautiful because you don't see love as a competition and you know how
to lose.
I'm ugly because I kissed the FA Cup then held it up to the crowd.

You're beautiful because of a single buttercup in the top buttonhole of your
cardigan.
I'm ugly because I said the World's Strongest Woman was a muscleman in a
dress.

You're beautiful because you couldn't live in a lighthouse.
I'm ugly for making hand-shadows in front of the giant bulb, so when they look
up,
the captains of vessels in distress see the ears of a rabbit, or the eye of a fox,
or the legs of a galloping black horse.

Ugly like he is,
Beautiful like hers,
Beautiful like Venus,
Ugly like his,
Beautiful like she is,
Ugly like Mars.

Ugly like he is,
Beautiful like hers,
Beautiful like Venus,
Ugly like his,
Beautiful like she is,
Ugly like Mars.

 

 

I once read that poem in Liverpool and a lady came up to me afterwards and said, 'Don't worry, I'm ugly as well.'


copyright © Simon Armitage, used by permission of the author.

Recordings

Simon Armitage Reading from His Poems

1The Shout

2All For One

3Chainsaw versus the Pampas Grass

4The Twang

5The Laughing Stock

6Salvador

7Birthday

8The Summerhouse

9Working from Home

10Two Clocks

11The Back Man

12The Keep

13KX

14Horses, M62

15You're Beautiful

16A Glory

17The Tyre

18Incredible

Books & cds by Simon Armitage