De haut en bas

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 seem
To picture mountain tops as barren, cold
And void of the amenities enjoyed
By 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 as
A car park, public toilets, a café,
A children’s playground and a shop that sells
A range of charming gifts and souvenirs.
Its catering, facilities, design
Have won awards. And yet the myth persists
Of 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 flute
Like some sad loser. Lycidas, get a life.’

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