Text settings

In Competition No. 3037 you were invited to take a song by Abba or the Beatles and rewrite the lyrics as a sonnet. Oh, for more space. Your entries were especially clever and funny this week, and the winners were chosen only after protracted agonising. Those printed below take £20 each.

O Jude! Fear not, and look not so downcast,

But sing a plaintive air, then let her in.

The minute Melancholy’s mood hath passed,

Then seek her and invite her ’neath thy skin.

Each time that sorrow pains thy sense, refrain!

Nor, Atlas-like, bear not this mournful orb

Upon thy weary shoulders, for in vain

Do fools, appearing cool, its heat absorb.

So let it out and let it in, O Jude;

Wait not for other fellows to perform,

For well thou knowest, music is Love’s food:

Hold hard thy breath — thou goest down a storm!

Sing then, and make it better! To conclude:

Hey nonny, nonny, nonny no — Hey Jude!

David Silverman

A revolution thou would’st have, thou say’st.

To change this world thou know’st we all aspire,

But if by flame and steel thou would’st lay waste,

Look not to hear my voice join in thy choir.

To solve what aileth us thou hast the key,

So thou dost boast, and bid’st me ope my purse.

Thy plan of action we all fain would see,

For I to fund dire hatred stand averse.

Thou would’st the constitution change, but I

Would urge thee rather change thy mode of thought.

All fault in institutions thou dost spy,

But that thy mind unfree is well I wot.

That despot’s portrait thou bear’st doth offend

But thou know’st all will be right in the end.

Chris O’Carroll

My baby’s good to me, thou knowest. She

Doth ever treat me excellently well.

She’s happy as can be, thou knowest. ‘Wee!’

She shouteth. ‘Such delight! Thou’rt truly swell!’

My baby says she’s mine, thou knowest. None

But I may speak of love to her a whit.

She tells me all the time, thou knowest. ‘Hon’,

She often sayeth, ‘I am thine. No shit.’

Her baby buys her things, thou knowest. I

Much love the way a gift doth make her glow.

He buys her diamond rings, thou knowest. Why,

Though, doth she feel that she must tell me so?

’Tis odd, no? But two things I question not:

Thou knowest much, and baby talks a lot.

Max Gutmann

When I consider now increasing signs —

Though depilation’s still some years away —

Of age advancing, will those Valentines

And wines still come? If, by perchance, I stray

’Til cock-crow sounds, two-forty-five the morn,

Would you have barred the portals on your side?

And would you need me still, perhaps forlorn?

And would you still the provender provide?

Then, six years short of three score years and ten,

We might on Sabbath mornings take a ride.

Make smocks, become the best of handymen,

Mend fuse, dig weeds, have grandchildren abide.

Then, come the summer, to the Isle of Wight

With Vera, Chuck and Dave as our delight.

Paul Brown

This is the story of a girl I had,

Or else a tale of how that girl had me.

She took me to her bachelorette pad.

I found it decorated Nordicly.

She offered me a seat and poured some wine.

There were no chairs. I plopped down on the floor

To drink and chat and hope she’d soon be mine.

But this, alas, was not my night to score.

At 2 a.m. she said ‘It’s time for bed,

But not for sex.’ She chose to sleep alone.

Off to the bath I slunk to lay my head.

Next morning when I woke, this bird had flown.

I torched her flat. The flames that I ignited

Were hot like me, but not so unrequited.

Francis Harry

There dwelt a fellow in my childhood home

Whose curious travelling tales I deemed divine,

A fearless mariner who chose to roam

The seven seas below the salty brine.

‘We rode,’ he said, ‘the subterranean tide

Where dappled sunlight lit the deep sea shelf —

A happy crew, all glad to live inside

A hull as yellow as the sun itself.

Accompanied by music, filled with glee,

All dancing to the rhythm, how we laughed

And sang the same old phrase repeatedly

Of life in our banana-coloured craft.

Then, to the captain’s orders, off we sped

With cable cut adrift, full speed ahead!’

Alan Millard

The working day has darkened into night

And I’ve been driven hard as any hound,

So all I now should have by any right

Is somewhere I can sleep both long and sound.

But home again with you it won’t be rest —

That’s not the gift I’ll have when I arrive:

You’ll do for me the things that you do best,

The things you know that make me come alive.

I work so you have anything you need

And in return you give me all you’ve got;

On that exchange where we are both agreed,

I have no cause to moan about my lot.

You know when you’re with me and hold me tight

It feels so fine that everything’s feels right.

W.J. Webster

Famed Waterloo! Napoleon’s great defeat

Calls into mind the cosmic mystery,

The ever-circling tale of history,

And echoes, too, the destiny I meet.

I tried restraint, and yet could not compete

With all your strength, nor could I ever see

How to gainsay you. I cede victory,

But yet am I victorious in defeat.

Yea, Waterloo! From battle I retired,

But claimed, as the imprisoned captive’s due,

A promised love eternal, free of doubt.

Ah, Waterloo! Flight is no more desired,

Since now at long last I am fated to

Confront my own Napoleonic rout.

Brian Murdoch

No. 3040: averse to verse

You are invited to submit a poem against poets or poetry. Please email entries of up to 16 lines to lucy@spectator.co.uk by midday on 14 March.