Lucy Vickery presents this week’s competition
In Competition No. 2680 you were invited to submit an acrostic poem of which the first letter of each line spells out the words Happy New Year.
This challenge elicited a whopping entry, and there were plenty of unfamiliar names among the regulars, which is always pleasing.
You were under no obligation to exude optimism and goodwill; indeed, with a few notable exceptions, those valiant souls that did attempt to inject a note of cheer failed to convince. Most didn’t bother to try, though, and Bernadette Evans’s closing couplet encapsulates the general gloomy tenor of the entry:
As politicians wonder if we’re happy,
Reality suggests the future’s crappy.
I liked George Simmers’s Hardy-inspired submission, while Mae Scanlan, G.W. Tapper, Max Ross, Lance Levens, Chris O’Carroll and Sam Gwynn were on equally fine form.
The winners, printed below, earn £25 each and W.J. Webster pockets the bonus fiver.
Heaven knows it’s never wise
At any point to look ahead:
Prediction’s so much wild surmise;
Prophetic stuff, where reason’s fled,
Yields mumbo jumbo porky pies,
No matter how the runes are read.
Each year, though, we evince surprise
When Clotho tweaks her fatal thread —
Yarn flimsier that we realise.
Enough of gloom! Enjoy instead
A state all mortal creatures prize:
Rejoice, rejoice that you’re not dead!
Hi, mother dear. Yes, Uni’s great! No news —
Apart from …well I’d better hold my tongue.
Perhaps I’ll get parole. I’m only young.
Please mother, don’t postpone your winter
You need a break. You’ve long been over
No, Nigel, rest assured! I won’t postpone.
Expect a card! I’m sure you’ll cope alone.
Whatever’s troubling you, please son, don’t
You needn’t fear, they’ve seized my phone. No
Enjoy yourself! Dad’s gone. Feel fancy-free
And, mother, happy may your New Year be.
Relax! I’ll do my time — and pay my debts.
Hope springs eternal, gives her New Year twitch
And smiles her semi-sozzled optimistic beam;
Ponders bad habits’ habits, why they itch.
Perhaps they’re not as dug-in as they seem.
Year’s followed year, but nothing changes,
None of the last year’s mantras lasted long,
Ending in sad excuses (lies, and such)
When willpower sagged and lofty thoughts
Yet Hope persists: the wine was red, and
Each legless reveller’s long lost the plot
And seeks for answers down the same old
Rerun old Resolutions? Yeah, why not!
Heartless winter’s brought his snowfalls
and appears resolved to stay;
ponds are frozen, pavements icy,
parks are uniformly grey.
You might wonder if the Arctic
nudged us with its frigid hand.
Every home in every county
wishes winter could be banned.
Yet the buds of spring are stirring
even as we slip and slide
and to lift our wintry spirits
Royalty will take a bride.
Here’s to the haggis, cranachan and Burns,
And here’s to the hearts locked in
Promise for pilgrims as under-earth churns,
Pressmen a-blub, public holiday (twice).
Yes, and to blossom, to may-poles and
Not to forget the fresh blooms of the rose,
Edging into our dog-days, and picnickers’
Weeks at the seaside, and end-of-pier
Yes also to harvest, its festival moon,
Earlier bedtimes, and Keatsian stanzas,
And gunpowder blowing, the fire ash
Runaway sales and some sofa bonanzas.
How long, O Lord, how long will this year
A full twelve months, of course, like all the
Perhaps for once You could just speed it
Patience! Mankind must always stand the
You couldn’t make it shorter? Just a bit?
No. Live with it. You have Time. Use it
Exactly how is that a benefit?
Waste it or spend it. Make it. Time will tell.
You win. Another year it is. I’ll try
Enduring with a laugh, so I don’t cry.
At last you’ve got it. Smile through the
Right to December. Then we’ll start again.
No. 2683 After the dance
You are invited to submit a sequel to ‘The Owl and the Pussycat’ (16 lines maximum). Please email entries, where possible, to email@example.com by midday on 26 January.
This article first appeared in the print edition of The Spectator magazine, dated January 15, 2011