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Competition

Lucy Vickery presents the latest competition

12 November 2008

6:49 PM

12 November 2008

6:49 PM

In Competition No. 2570 you were invited to take any song by the Beatles or by Elvis Presley and rewrite it in the style of the poet of your choice.

It’s a long way from Scotty Moore to Middle Scots but that didn’t stop Penelope Mackie, who submitted a fine rendition of ‘All Shook Up’ in the style of William Dunbar. I was also impressed by Chris O’Carroll’s ‘Yellow Submarine’ by Walt Whitman: ‘We all live in a yellow submarine, a yellow submarine, a yellow submarine./ Do I repeat myself? Very well then I repeat myself./ We all live…’ etc. etc.  Well done, too, to Ray Kelley, Michael Cregan, Gerard Benson, Julie Kane, Frank McDonald, W.J. Webster, Martin Parker, John Whitworth, David Silverman and Jill Green. Ahead of them but only just are the winners, printed below, who get £30 each. The bonus fiver belongs to Bill Greenwell.

Julia, should’st thou wawl and bay,
Throughout the night as through the day,
Thy huckleberry tears resound,
That some, I fear, think thee a hound.
But when I gaze into thy face,
No yearning have I for the chase:
Has thou a coney ever caught?
Doubt this, our amity is naught.

Permit me, too, to question thee
Upon thy sworn nobility,
For all thou hast a silken breast,
There is no substance to thy crest.
A harrier thou seemest, sure,
But mongrel-eye’d, thy blood impure:
Thou ne’er hast pluck’d a buck or doe,
For which our concord may not grow.
Bill Greenwell
(‘Hound Dog’ by Robert Herrick)

’Tis rumoured that you claim my friendship,
    sir —
Though you are but a snivelling mongrel cur,
A mis-shap’d stranger to all pedigrees,
A whimpering thing less noble than your fleas.
Your trembling legs, than which your tears flow
    faster,
Let each pathetic rabbit be your master;
For in the chase the bays you e’er must yield
To each poor quiv’ring coney of the field.
Some friends you have, some bought, some
    lacking sense,
Who brazenly attempt a weak pretence
That in you lies some germ of what is fine.
That is not so. You are no friend of mine.
George Simmers
(‘Hound Dog’ by Alexander Pope)


When I consider all the weary length
Of this day’s night in arduous toil spent,
On heav’nly sleep my hungering soul is bent
E’re I regain man’s Herculean strength.
Yet Stygian darkness fades when thee I see,
And all thou dost restores my wakefulness,
Thus warmed again, as by the Sun’s caress,
I wake to Eden’s bright felicity.
When I consider all thou dost require,
For no reward save what thou art to me
I fain would labour long and ceaselessly
To purchase ev’rything thou couldst desire.
And, having done so, seek no easeful rest
But in Elysian paradise rejoice
Content to hear the musick of thy voice,
And have thee as my sole and treasured guest.
Alan Millard
(‘A Hard Day’s Night’ by John Milton)

This was Mr Bleaney’s town, and where
He listened to the man who sailed the sea
And spoke of yellow subs. His life. The blare
Of colours, and what dreams could be.

He kept on plugging at the same old tale
So Mr Bleaney gave the trip a try
With such friends as he had. Some fags, some
     ale —
It seemed like easy living, which was why

Nobody questioned what it all might mean.
Their jabbering repeat of the refrain
We all live in a Yellow Submarine
Tousled the hearer’s sense and numbed the brain.

The band picked up the beat, the tune went round.
The sub and blue sky made a pretty show.
But if he’d any sense of life being drowned
By endless repetition, I don’t know.
D.A. Prince
(‘Mr Bleaney’s Yellow Submarine’ by Philip Larkin)

What wood it was, I did not know.
She brought me home that night to show
The room she’d taken recently,
This girl I once had, long ago,

Or should I say, she once had me
‘Norwegian wood. High quality.’
And then, ‘Sit anywhere,’ she said.
No chair or sofa could I see,

So I sat on the rug instead.
We drank and talked, the hours fled.
‘I work tomorrow.’ She laughed, then stood.
That night the bathtub was my bed.

I woke, this bird had flown for good.
I lit the fire, one sorry dude:
Isn’t it good, Norwegian wood?
Isn’t it good, Norwegian wood?
Marion Shore
(‘Norwegian Wood’ by Robert Frost)

No. 2573: What happened next?
You are invited to supply the synopsis of a sequel that was never written to a well-known novel (150 words maximum). Entries to ‘Competition 2573’ by 27 November or email lucy@spectator.co.uk.

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