In Competition No. 3068 you were invited to provide a sonnet in reverse, using as your model Rupert Brooke’s ‘Sonnet Reversed’, which turns upside-down both the form — it begins on the rhyming couplet — and the Petrarchan concept of idealised love, starting on a romantic high but ending in prosaic banality.
This challenge produced a delightfully varied and engaging entry. Honourable mentions go to Basil Ransome-Davies, Jennifer Pearson, David Shields, George Simmers and Philip Roe. The winners, printed below, are rewarded with £20 each.
Six days to build the Cosmos! I was hot!
With stars and planets, galaxies, the lot —
And life! Amoebae, microbes, dinosaurs,
Crustaceans, fish… and so on down the line.
I worked like hell to finish all my chores,
And when I looked around, it all seemed fine.
But then I started doubting what I’d done;
My motives seemed both frivolous and vague.
Creating cancer — was it just for fun?
For My sake! Why invent bubonic plague,
Or things like syphilis and leprosy?
So much that’s bad, so many chances missed…
Increasingly, I don’t believe in Me;
Today, I’m just another atheist.
Art soared to heights as high as man could go
When David rose from Michelangelo.
A fractured piece of marble, an idea,
And genius fingers made the marble live.
He caused a spark from heaven to appear
Charging his work with all he had to give,
And thus his Adam stretched a hand to God
In Sistine pomp and splendour. Such was art.
But nowadays whatever strikes as odd:
Some dung, some flies, the fragrance of a fart,
Whatever shocks is worth a Turder prize.
The days of careful craftsmanship are dead;
A mess is viewed with mad, myopic eyes
And modern art stinks in its unmade bed.
Her glittering eyes reveal an inner fire
And tautened limbs are trembling with desire.
It’s best to tie her up when she’s like that
Although she whimpers, begging to be free.
She must have seen a rabbit or a rat
And so I slip her lead around a tree
As otherwise she’d plunge into the mound
Of garden rubbish that I’m trying to burn
With kindling sticks and The Spectator (found
In the recycling bin).