In Competition No. 3179 you were invited to submit a Christmas hit single rewritten as a sonnet.
This seasonal challenge was embraced with gusto, and highlights, in a magnificent entry, ranged from Ian Barker’s version of Jona Lewie’s catchy and affecting ‘Stop the Cavalry’ to Basil Ransome-Davies’s reworking of the peerless Eartha Kitt’s innuendo-laden ‘Santa Baby’. Commendations also go to Matthew Wright, Ross McAlpine, Mary McLean, Sarah Hill, David Silverman and Richard Spencer, but the festive winnings of £20 apiece are awarded to the authors of the sonnets printed below.
The trials of the year have done nothing to diminish your wit and skill; thank you for all your submissions, which it has been a pleasure to judge. A happy Christmas to you all.
“It’s Crimbo! Unafraid, we’ll ban the shadows,And spend our higher incomes bringing grins.Let’s hug our third world pals, and not be saddoes.While you are noshing turkey, downing gins,Consider those whose world is very scary,Whose sobs provide the only water source —In countries where the bells mean this: Be WaryWhere Death is ever-present. Feel remorse!Be thankful that it’s Africans who suffer;They won’t get snow, they might get half a life.They have no rivers, crops, it’s all much tougher.They’ve no idea it’s Christmas! Fear is rife.So, cheers, my starving dears. No more disparity!Feel guilty, give them scoff. It’s Christmas charity!Bill Greenwell/‘Do They Know it’s Christmas?’
“Let carollers with cheerful voices singOf new times coming as the old times goAnd, dreaming of Saint Nicholas and snowGreet Christmas and the little child born king.May living, giving, trusting, loving, joyAnd laughter lighten everybody’s heartAs evil doings of the past deparWhile following in the footsteps of the boy.Then let us all repeat this sweet refrainOf log fires, presents, mistletoe and wineFor one born king, the child of David’s line,And, having sung it, sing it through again!Again, again, again, and yet againTill, earworm-like, it bores into the brain.Alan Millard/‘Mistletoe and Wine’
“A reindeer known as Rudolph had a snout,Mutated in its colour, tint and tone,The other reindeer meanly left him out —They called him names and made him play alone.His nasal apparatus shone and glowedIn some strange bioluminescent way,Then when on foggy Christmas Eve it snowed,Old Santa said ‘Please come and guide my sleigh.’So Rudolph garnered accolades and fameBy making sure deliveries took place,And history will celebrate his nameFor having dermatitis of the face.Next year instead of noses that fluoresce,It might be safer using GPS.John Priestland/‘Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer’
“In festive times, to thee I gave my heart,Yet thou did’st cast it carelessly away,And now, lest tears I cannot stem may start,I strive for distance, keeping thee at bay.One worthier than thou shall have my heart:The gift that, wrapp’d with care, was meant for thee.Now, twelvemonth past, I see thee as thou artFor thou, dissembling, made a fool of me.And should thy kisses touch my lips againI’d trust no more the promises they hold,If thou dost turn to me, thou seek’st in vain,My unrequited love lies dead and cold.I’ve taken back the gift I gave to thee,I weep no more, a new love sets me free.Sylvia Fairley/‘Last Christmas’
“A river waits for me to sail acrossOn moon beams that will be my boat one day,A broad and mighty river that will tossAside my cares and take my pain away.And though I cannot tell where I might goOr on its drifting course what I might seeI’m happy to be taken by its flowAnd let the dreamy moonlight swallow me.We’re like two drifters off to see the worldPlacing our trust in what our rainbows holdAnd on that someday river, starlight-pearled,We’ll surely find our secret store of gold.And so, Moon River, let me cross in styleYour phantom waters, wider than a mile.Frank McDonald/‘Moon River’
“Where are the snows of Christmas yesteryearWhich now are made the stuff of dreams for me?Fresh memories come of how I used to peerTo see the glistening white on every tree;We listened then for sleigh bells in the snowAnd still I can recall them to my mind:Those are the scenes and sounds I’ll always know,That keep my past and present intertwined.Now prompted by the Christmas cards I writeThe snow-filled times of joy return anew:I see again the brilliance of the lightAnd wish that I might share that sight with you.I hope your days may merry be and brightAnd that your Christmases may all be white.W.J. Webster/‘White Christmas’
“You’re best advised to keep yourself alert.Don’t thrust a sullen lip. Don’t wail or weep.The North Pole’s strictest worthiness expertWill soon stop by your home while you’re asleep.He writes it down when you do something right,And keeps a record when you fail or swerve,So when he shows up at your place one night,He’ll know what gifts you do or don’t deserve.His eye is on you when you’re snug in bed.He watches as you go about each day.To dodge harsh consequences you might dread,Be virtuous in all your work and play.Be good, be good, be very, very good.You know he’s coming, so you know you should.Chris O’Carroll/‘Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town’
No. 3182: over to the dark side
You are invited to rewrite a famous piece of light verse as a poem with a dirge-like, hieratic (ie. solemn and ponderous) tone. Please email entries of up to 16 lines to firstname.lastname@example.org by midday on 13 January. We are now paying winners by cheque, unless you state on your entry that you would prefer to be paid by bank transfer.