In Competition No. 2399 you were asked for a reply in blank verse by the maid addressed in Tennyson’s poem, ‘“Come down, O maid from yonder mountain height:/What pleasure lives in height?” the shepherd sang...’
You can only catch a glimpse of me this week, since my head is going to disappear behind the curtain once I have announced that there are seven winning entries to this comp, all in a photo-finish bunch. The camera adjudges Basil Ransome-Davies top winner. He gets £30 and the others have £20 each. That’s all, folks.
‘What pleasure lives in height?’ Why, sir, you seemTo picture mountain tops as barren, cold And void of the amenities enjoyedBy dwellers in the valley. ’Tis not so.This summit is no hostile, frozen zone,No rocky wilderness. Some years ago, The site became a Heritage attraction,With all its natural loveliness enhanced By tasteful redevelopment, such asA car park, public toilets, a café,A children’s playground and a shop that sellsA range of charming gifts and souvenirs.Its catering, facilities, designHave won awards. And yet the myth persistsOf bleak discomfort at high altitudes.Tend to your sheep, and question me no more.Basil Ransome-Davies
Then called the maiden to her shepherd-swain(Tho’ ‘hollered’ might more near her voice define):‘’Ere, Lycidas, you’re gettin’ on me nerves,How many times I got to tell you, no!I’m stayin’ on me mountain-top, all right?And your pathetic whingeing won’t change that.You’re all the same, you randy shepherd boys,Just pissy poetry and oaten reeds,Gettin’ young girls in trouble in the hay,Then leggin’ it. You’re irresponsible,The lot of you. Don’t give me “rivulets”And “murmuring of innumerable bees”.If you was half a man you’d be up here,Wooin’ me proper — that’s what I deserve;Instead you’re down there, tootlin’ on yer fluteLike some sad loser. Lycidas, get a life.’Mike Morrison
‘What pleasure lives in height?’ the maid replied.‘Alas, you’ll never know, poor, lowly swain,Whose height, from tip to toe, is half of mine,Whose top my bustled bottom barely meets!My pleasure lies in looking down on youAnd seeing all that you will never see:The bald spot in the hayfield that’s your hairWhere flecks of dandruff fall like flakes of snow,Those sad, beseeching, upturned eyes that gazeOn beauty such as mine beyond their reach.Look lower, lowly shepherd! Set your sightsOn maidens more your size! Go seek and findSome “Mary” searching for a manikinTo pet and pamper as her “little lamb”!“Come down!” you cry to me. You must be mad.Grow up, and chase the maid that’s made for you!’Alan Millard
What pleasure lives in height? I might referYour question to that mighty LaureateWordsworth, who saw the world from Striding EdgeAnd knew the spirit underlying all.No doubt you feel on grounds of health and safetyI would do better to embrace your life,Stumble, like Marvell, upon grass, not rock,See Nature as improved by human hands —And why not yours? I heard that word ‘embrace’As I evaded you upon the way.No, shepherd, here I am and here remain,Finding it pleasure, in my middle teens,To stay a maid upon a mountain height,Reminding you to study, as you should,That excellent Children and Young Persons Act.Paul Griffin
Sweet is the prospect from this lofty peak,Sweeter the life-enhancing oxygen,Sweetest the feeling of accomplishmentIn gaining thus the summit of my hopes.The pleasures that you question lie in these,And also in believing my descentMay be attempted in more leisured style.But were I to regain the fertile vales,A serious allergy to sheep would blightThe pastoral idyll that your song implies.Oh, incidentally, I’m not a maid,Though optic glass of whatsoever strengthWould not have shown you, gleaming on my hand,The golden circlet of connubial troth.So, gratefully, but never yours ...P.S.I’ll always have a high regard for you.Geoffrey Bullard
Come up here, shepherd, if you want to see me.What pleasure lies in yonder village pub?Televised football, crisps and gassy beer.You’re overweight, I know, but you can make it:This ‘mountain height’ of which you speak is onlyAbout six hundred feet above the car park,But here at least there’s air that’s fit to breathe,Skylarks and curlews, running streams and heather.You’re only in the pub in any case Because tonight the landlord’s putting onA reading by some ‘noted rustic poets’,Yourself among them. And no doubt you hope Your verse will have me tearing off my clothesAnd crying, ‘Take me, master, I am yours.’Look, shepherd, if I’m after mindless bleating,I don’t need poets. Bring your sheep up here.Michael Swan
‘Some little inconvenience I admit,’The maid replied, ‘in that I have to strainTo hear your questions; and to answer themI’m forced to shout, which harms a lady’s voice.However, since you ask, I’ll do my best.It’s common knowledge that the mountain airIs healthier than the plain’s: it stimulatesThe brain, whereas the atmosphere down there Is stagnant, stifling, and somniferous.The scenery is more inspiring here —Rugged, romantic — while the fields belowIn boring sequence scarcely undulate.But why expatiate further? It’s quite clearYou’re far too idle to essay the climbAnd find out for yourself what pleasure mightAwait the enterprising mountaineer.’Mary Holtby
No. 2402: Show me your leader
The last editorial article in a quality newspaper is traditionally facetious, learned and topical. You are invited to supply an imaginary example of the genre. Maximum 150 words. Entries to ‘Competition No. 2402 by 21 July.