Lucy Vickery

Competition: That was the year that was

Spectator literary competition No. 2828

As the New Year hurtles towards us, it’s time for a retrospective commentary, in verse, on 2013. Please email entries of up to 16 lines to lucy@spectator.co.uk by midday on 9 December (the shorter deadline is because of our seasonal production schedule).

The recent competition to supply a poem for a well-known painting was inspired by the poet and painter Dante Gabriel Rossetti, who composed a sonnet, ‘Found’, in 1881 as a companion to an unfinished oil painting of the same title on the theme of prostitution, which is now in the Delaware Museum. You weren’t obliged to write a sonnet (a few did).

Rossetti’s Pre-Raphaelite brethren popped up regularly in the entry. Melanie Branton’s companion piece to Millais’ ‘Ophelia’, a lament from a long-suffering Lizzie Siddal, made me smile. Rembrandt’s self-portraits were also a popular choice.
This week the lack of space for more winners was more frustrating than usual. Rob Stuart, Sylvia Fairley, Adrian Fry, Philip Wilson and Chris O’Carroll were strong contenders and only narrowly missed joining the prize-winners below, who take £25 each. The bonus fiver is Alan Millard’s.

Alan Millard/Constable’s ‘The Haywain’

Aye, clearly there’s a story here,
A story here,
Less tranquil than it might appear
Beneath that darkening sky:
The haywain stalls, the lad says naught
But points towards a lass distraught
Upon the bank — a moment fraught
With more than meets the eye.






Midstream the master, roughly clad,
Aye, roughly clad,
Stands staring at the pointing lad,
The horse waits, wain in tow;
A dog looks on. What came before,
Or afterwards might lie in store
For master, lad or lass is more
Than we shall ever know.






Basil Ransome-Davies/Magritte’s ‘Golconda’

It’s raining men in bowler hats. Or is it?
They might be leaving, floating up, instead
Of dropping in politely for a visit.

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