Jaspistos

Complimentary

Complimentary

In Competition No. 2439 you were invited to write a poem in praise of a friend.
The only time I wrote a poem in praise of a friend, he shortly afterwards committed murder, followed by suicide. There are, though, much happier examples. Pope’s ‘On a Certain Lady at Court’ ends:

‘Has she no faults then,’ Envy says, ‘Sir?’
Yes, she has one, I must aver;
When all the World conspires to praise her,
The Woman’s deaf, and does not hear.

The compliment is spiced by the fact that she actually was deaf. I also like Day Lewis’s poem ‘For Rex Warner on his 60th Birthday’, which contains the shrewd line, ‘“Keeping up” a friendship means it is through.’ It was a pleasant change to set a ‘joking apart’ comp which couldn’t possibly embrace political satire. The prizewinners, printed below, get £25 each, and D.A. Prince takes the bonus fiver.
In our last issue the number of the competition set was misprinted as 2443. It should have been 2441.








Through school bus, classroom, playground, we’d a stack
Of shared experience – we go ‘way back’
(In the vernacular), so now we spend
Hours in dissection of each absent friend.
Death, disagreements, half a world away –
Nothing protects them as you have your say
In honest, rude, robustly common sense
Slicing through affectation and pretence –
A lifetime spent on sharpening your wit
Means that you’re unsurpassed, detecting shit.








Of course it’s death we’re picking over most
In contemplation of our own Last Post.
It’s death-bed scenes, not weddings now, for us;
We trump each other’s stories, and discuss
Whether the one who goes the sooner shall
Feel left out at the other’s funeral.
D.A. Prince





Dear friend, though we have never met
Or spoken face to face,
The user-friendly internet
Shrinks intervening space.


Though you may dwell in Oxfordshire
And I by dull canals
Not twenty miles from Wigan pier,
We’re virtually old pals.


Our modems chatter like a pair
Of neighbours at a gate
To share a joke, or rubbish Blair,
Or simply ventilate.


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