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
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
Now you stand at the window, the sun in your eyes:
Though it’s quarter past midnight, you’d think it
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
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.
I’ll use that bloomin’ ’alf-wit to sharpen up my plan.
I wouldn’t give ’im time of day, just chattin’ man
But ’e can ’elp me dish the Moor, ’oo as the gossip
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
A man I ’ate I’ll ’ate buckshee, regardless of the
Yet a loyal and honest ancient is ’ow ’e thinks of me,
Which makes my scheme as easy as unwinding a
Now Cassio, ’oo’s in my way — ’ow do I topple ’im?
’E scrubs well in uniform, although ’is lights are
The ladies ’ave an eye for ’im, so what if I suggest
That Cassio’s the cuckoo in Othello’s little
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
For me it’s blissful vengeance, but for ’im it’s
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
But, when I try to grasp you, you dissolve just
like morning dew.
I know that a royal imagination can be
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
It is of course a fact that men at my period in
Are inclined to be superstitious and get
involved in mystery
But why is that howlet doing such peculiar
And who is summoning me by that noisy bell
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 email@example.com by midday on 3 November.