Lucy Vickery

First and last

In Competition No. 3046 you were invited to supply a poem beginning with the last line of any well-known poem and ending with its first line, the new poem being on a different subject all together.
This was a wildly popular comp, which elicited a witty and wide-ranging entry that was both pleasurable and painful to judge. The winners below, chosen only after much humming and hawing, earn £30 each.

I am the captain of my soul:
Scant comfort when I’m six feet under
Inside a crude and loamy hole.
Has someone slipped up here, I wonder?
I thought that I would hob and nob
With angels, all their wings aquiver,
But I lie, stripped of pulse and throb,
Inside some plywood, doomed to shiver.
My soul, it seems, won’t rise or fall,
But lodge here with my last remains,
Observing thus the free-for-all
As maggots chew my senseless brains.
I am condemned. I have no shape.
I rule my soul, eternally —
But that won’t let me once escape
Out of the night that covers me.
Bill Greenwell
In England’s green and pleasant land
When Saxon monarchs held the throne,
Poor Ethelred could hardly stand
Through corns, a bunion, nails ingrown
And, worst, a giant plantar wart.
This feckless king let no one touch
His thus tormented soles. His court,
Their consternation roused by such
A danger to his rule, called in
A blacksmith, who at once set to
With clipper, rasp and fossick-pin.
The king, though bound and gagged, soon knew
Relief from pain and, much impressed
By this display of skill sublime
Ennobled him who served him best
And did those feet in ancient time.
Hugh King
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.
Is that the sort of claim a sound mind makes?
We’re both aware our shared mortality
Is not inclined to cut us any breaks.
We add the zest, the whoop-dee-doo, but life
Itself must be some other giver’s gift.
How long one husband dallies with one wife
Both souls can’t know, so splurging feels like thrift.

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