Non-poem of the week: The back of the shower gel bottle
Beauty Care Body Wash
With natural caring oil
Dove has taken two of the things skin
loves most – oil and moisturising
cream – and put them together.
The result is richer in caring oils
than regular shower gel.
A luxuriously pampering and seriously
caring shower experience.
Rich in oils, but not oily.
Deeply moisturising, but not heavy.
A beautiful contradiction.
So I’m in the toilet scrabbling about for something, anything to read, and all I can find is an empty bottle of Dove body wash. Shower cream packaging is not the highest in literary content but, fudge it, I’m already sitting down and last week’s Stylist magazine is out of reach.
I turn the bottle over expecting to find a list of ingredients, maybe a place of manufacture, and lo and behold, what do I find but something that looks suspiciously like a poem. Centred, short lines, clearly a stanza. Verse. A quick scan confirms my initial suspicions… the good people at Dove Body Wash have indeed whacked a poem (of sorts) on the back of their product, on the off chance that an inquisitive thinker/ body washer might just flip it over and be inspired to get ‘deeply moisturised’.
It all starts off fairly innocuously with a simple description of the product. Nothing too offensive – simple, descriptive, undecorated language. But as I’m sitting there scanning, I reach the second half of the stanza and -blam- I’m hit with something a lot more powerful. Adverbs. ‘Luxiuriously’, ‘seriously’, ‘deeply’ – these words are thrown at the reader to emphasise the extraordinary cleansing power of Dove. Throughout the piece language is used in a pretty heavy-handed manner for this exact reason. The vocabulary is not particularly sophisticated but it is discerning, throwing out high impact verbs (caring, pampering), adjectives (beautiful, rich) and adverbs (see above). I’d like to think that the opposition between ‘regular’ and ‘richer’ shower gels is intentional, but I doubt it. Any poets at Dove who can confirm otherwise, please let me know.
There isn’t much imagery a shower body wash non-poem could throw forward, other than that of a body being washed, but this does try. Skin is almost personified in the first couple of lines, as the writer begins to detail what it ‘loves most’. We can almost picture ‘skin’ enjoying itself and lathering up. The word ‘pampering’ has connotations of luxury and conjours up images of opulence, reinforced by the repetition of ‘rich’/’richer’.
All that punctuation can’t be an accident. Whoever wrote this (I’m guessing work-experience placement in Human Resources or PR) took their time getting the caesura going. The full stops slow the whole thing down completely, forcing the reader to pause and digest just how luxurious the Dove body wash experience is. For example – The full stops. Slow the whole thing down. Completely. Forcing the reader. To Pause. And digest. Just how luxurious. The Dove body was experience. Is. See?
The sumptuous vocabulary and measured pace I think are supposed to be sensual, with a building up of sexual energy as the non-poem progresses. The opening is fairly informative, with a hint of sensuality introduced by the superlative use of ‘love’. Next thing you know you’re in soft-porn territory with those simpering adverbs and repetition of ‘moist’ – the dirtiest of dirty words. Then, just in case you’d gotten carried away with all that steamy shower talk and forgotten you were being advertised to, the writer hits you with the solid soundbite: ‘A beautiful contradiction’. It’s actually neither of these things. It’s just creamy soap, which ultimately lends the piece an (unintentional) air of comedy. I would love to see a reply from ‘regular’ shower gel. I bet it would be a limerick…
Showers, sex and things to read whilst having a shit. Very intimate.