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Competition Diversions

Competition: Take two

Lucy Vickery presents the latest competition

23 October 2010

1:00 PM

23 October 2010

1:00 PM

In Competition No. 2669 you were invited to take one of Shakespeare’s soliloquies and recast it in the style of the author of your choice. This was an exceptionally strong field, with winners enough to fill several columns. Honourable mentions to G.M. Davis, Mary Holtby, Laura Garratt and Margaret Howell, and £30 each to those printed below. Catherine Tufariello bags the extra fiver.

Miss Juliet Capulet, you are the sun,
With that sheen on your skin and your braids half
    undone!
I’m a fool on a cliff, and you give me a shove—
Is it any surprise that I’ve fallen in love?
 
Your daddy looked daggers all night at the dance,
While I hoped and I prayed for tiniest glance
At your firm-muscled forearms and strenuous
    thighs.
Now you stand at the window, the sun in your eyes:
 
Though it’s quarter past midnight, you’d think it
    was noon,
And the greeny-faced, chilly-chaste, envious moon
Looks queasy as I am, your servant in livery
Dumbstruck and weak-kneed and lovery-shivery.
 
How I wish I could be a glove warmed by your
    hand,
Or a shoe on your foot, or a wave on the sand
Between your strong toes as you kick me and run!
Miss Juliet Capulet, you are the sun.
Catherine Tufariello/John Betjeman

Death comes at us disguised as days
Advancing with their slow-march tread,
An infinite parade of strength.
In time we’re ground to dust, always,
Like all the fools before, all dead,
Life clicked off in a last breath’s length.
Our lives are nothing but a stage
For acting out our fears and dreams,
A sad illusion, soon destroyed.
Like idiots we shout and rage,
As if we did not know our screams
Would die to nothing in the void.
 W.J.Webster/Philip Larkin

I’ll use that bloomin’ ’alf-wit to sharpen up my plan.
I wouldn’t give ’im time of day, just chattin’ man
    to man,
But ’e can ’elp me dish the Moor, ’oo as the gossip
    runs
Is at it with my missus like a pair o’ gatling guns.

Call it just a barracks rumour, but to me it’s all the
    same.
A man I ’ate I’ll ’ate buckshee, regardless of the
    blame.
Yet a loyal and honest ancient is ’ow ’e thinks of me,
Which makes my scheme as easy as unwinding a
    puttee.
 
Now Cassio, ’oo’s in my way — ’ow do I topple ’im?
’E scrubs well in uniform, although ’is lights are
    dim,
The ladies ’ave an eye for ’im, so what if I suggest
That Cassio’s the cuckoo in Othello’s little
    nest?


The Moor’s still wet be’ind the ears. ’E
    thinks the best of folk.
You can lead ’im where you want ’im like an
    ’opeless plodding moke.
So there it is, a strategy straight from the pit
    of ’ell;
For me it’s blissful vengeance, but for ’im it’s
    bliss farewell.
Basil Ransome-Davies/Kipling

What choice this is I think I know —
I’m racked with indecision though —
to face my fate however dire
or risk what terrors lie below?

For who indeed would not desire
to take their leave of fortune’s ire,
but for the fear of going from
the frying pan into the fire?

My father’s spirit must be glum
to see the way I’m playing dumb,
wandering round this crumbling heap,
while my uncle shags my mum.

Death beckons, peaceful, dark and deep,
but I have vows that I must keep
and three more acts before I sleep
and three more acts before I sleep.
Marion Shore/Robert Frost

O, what is this hanging before me in the
    Scottish misty air?
You move but do not disappear however
    much I stare.
You look like a knife or a dagger or maybe a
    skean dhu
But, when I try to grasp you, you dissolve just
    like morning dew.
I know that a royal imagination can be
    powerful
But I wonder if I might be going mad, which
    makes me very sorrowful.
Or maybe this is all an unusually bad dream
Because now blood is pouring off you in a
    spotty stream.
It is of course a fact that men at my period in
    history
Are inclined to be superstitious and get
    involved in mystery
But why is that howlet doing such peculiar
    singing,
And who is summoning me by that noisy bell
    ringing?
If this is a trick to convince me that I must
    take Duncan’s life
Then the blame will lie with the three witches
    or else with my domineering wife.
G. McIlraith/William McGonagall


No. 2672: Cheesy Feat

Thanks to Robert Booth for suggesting this one: ‘The poets have been mysteriously silent on the subject of cheese.’ You are invited to disprove G.K. Chesterton’s assertion (16 lines max.). Please email entries, if possible, to lucy@spectator.co.uk by midday on 3 November.


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