In Competition No. 2862 you were invited to submit a poetic preview of when the lights go out.
Submissions were impressively varied this week, and kept me thoroughly entertained. Honourable mentions go to Katie Mallett, who had Betjeman in mind (‘Fetch out the candles, Norman…’), and to Sylvia Fairley, who was in double-dactylic mood: ‘Jittery-tickery/ Grid electricity/ won’t last for ever, you’d/ better beware…’
The winners, printed below, are rewarded with £25 each. Alan Millard takes £30.
And will the lights fade one by one,
Fade one by one,
As each man’s dwindling day is done
And dark descends,
A world where every waning light
Brings others, waxing, into sight
To burn until, in turn, the night
Their daylight ends?
Or will the darkness come about,
Ay, come about,
When every light at once goes out
And all is gone,
No time for penitence or prayer,
A sudden end with all wiped bare
And not the faintest glimmer where
The sun once shone?
Where are you going to, horrid humanity?
God’s in his heaven and man is in hell.
See what you’ve done with religious insanity;
Hope in her sickness has nothing to sell.
We have sent satellites into infinity,
Walked on the moon and we’ve analysed Mars;
Still we’re obsessed with an absent divinity
Hiding his face in a cluster of stars.
Look how we murder and label it piety;
Slaughtering children, we think God approves.
Dangerous darkness descends on society;
Nothing to stop it in Paradise moves.
Over the planet with godly authority
Brutes are extinguishing all that was light.
Watchers we wait in a muted majority;
Gentle we go into culture’s goodnight.
The closing ceremony of The End
Will likely be a Dylanesque affair.
The junkie poet and the millionaire,
The hooker and the clown will all attend.
Providing Health & Safety give the nod,
There will be fireworks, just one small display.