Lucy Vickery

Competition | 6 August 2011

Any questions

‘To ______, or not to ______, that is the question…’ In Competition No. 2707 you were invited to fill in the blanks and continue for up to a further 15 lines.
The challenge elicited a topical response from many competitors — ‘to hack or not to hack…’ agonised George Simmers — and dilemmas of the digital age loomed large too: ‘To tweet or not to tweet… Can fourteen times ten characters ever tell a tale…’ (Jenny Lowe).
Tim Raikes, Carolyn Thomas-Coxhead and Elizabeth Bullen were unlucky losers. The winners, printed below, get £25 each. The extra fiver is D.A. Prince’s.

To drink or not to drink: that is the question.
Whether to down one’s units all at once
In one sweet session of outrageous booze
Or eek them out in thimblefuls — small sips
Through meanly measured days. To count, record  —
Oh God! And by addition to prolong
Our temperate time to drag along like death
From over-moderation.  That’s no life.
But yet, through wine’s excess, what hell may
When livers have surrendered in the fight?
For who would face the medic’s stern regard,
The tutting nurse, the glum teetotaller’s frown
When units are uncountable as sand? —
It makes you think. Still, one more for the road.
Tomorrow’s bus might have my number on’t
And then the rest is dryness.
D.A. Prince

To rhyme or not to rhyme, that is the question.
‘Free verse,’ some cry, ‘from all such verbal ties!’
Dismissing any diffident suggestion
That matching sounds might be a thing to prize.
Does rhyming make a corset or a frame,
Set off a thought or curb its natural line?
Is choosing words that chime an idle game
Or honouring a classic verse design?
If blank’s the way all modern verse should be,
And all that abba stuff has had its time,
Reactionaries are gratified to see
That hip-hop likes its lyrics wrapped in rhyme.
Let’s leave the resolution, then, to Will,
The master of this craft, whose verse would be
Turned for the role it needed to fulfil,
Untrammelled, as you like it, rhymed or free.

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