Lucy Vickery

Poems about picnics

Poems about picnics
Credit: George Marks
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In Competition No. 3155 you were invited to supply a poem entitled ‘The Picnic’.

This challenge was prompted by a tweet from picnic-hater @edcumming inviting people to nominate their single worst picnic item. Suggestions included stale warm dry carrot batons, hummus with a skin, supermarket Scotch eggs and gin in a tin that’s been slowly boiled by the sun. So as we face a summer of outdoor socialising, should we all just face the fact that picnics are much nicer in the imagining?

There are clearly fans out there, judging by the entry, which was large and tremendous. The winners, especially tricky to choose this week, take £25 each.

Oh look! Another glossy supplement

babbling away about how meals al fresco

are easy — only half an hour well spent

and there’s your picnic! Oh, hey-bloody-presto!

 

What Austen slyly dubbed ‘the apparatus

of happiness’ (such irony!) is there:

plates, napkins and, to magnify your status,

a ziggurat of matching Tupperware.

 

This quivering quiche; what frantic kitchen working —

indoors and hot and frazzled — shaped your beauty?

Who sourced the freekeh and each cherished gherkin

and every picnic’s must-have, a clafoutis?

 

I wish you well; green grass, the perfect view —

no nettles, thistles, cowpats, ants, to blight

all this repast deserves. Meanwhile I’ll chew

my bread and cheese and apple out of sight.

D.A. Prince
We spread our blankets on a lawn

Beside an autumn wood,

And underneath a happy sun

Unpacked our picnic food.

John looked around contentedly

And praising fruitful trees

Enthused on autumn’s luxury,

Composing lines with ease.

We toasted with a cooling wine

And ate in open air

While John pronounced the fruit divine

In words beyond compare.

His lovely hymn, that picnic grace,

His praise for autumn’s spree

Would surely take an honoured place

In a golden treasury.

Frank McDonald
Do you remember the day, Alana?

Do you remember the day?

And the sun, and the fun when we picnicked as one

United, excited and oh, so delighted,

Under the boughs of the oak; and the smoke

From the barbecue’s smouldering coke; and the calls

Of the children all dashing and thrashing and splashing

As though they were bathing in sunny Havana,

Do you remember the day, Alana?

Do you remember the day?

And the cooling breeze in the shade of the trees,

And the hours we lazed, amazed as we gazed

Into each others eyes, Alana,

Do you remember the day?

And the bliss of the kiss we’ll never forget or regret

That bound us together then and binds us yet!

Alan Millard
Birthday picnic, fête champêtre!

Sceptically I scan this bunch,

Less Manet’s ‘Déjeuner Sur l’Herbe’,

More William Burroughs’ Naked Lunch.

 

Lolling on the verdant heathland

Undownlocked now, free at last;

Hamper, chill box, Styro cups but

Where’s the bloody corkscrew? Blast!

 

Jill bollocks Bill, Di disses Dai,

Vivien slags off Vivian;

Smug-bug Reggie, TT, veggie,

Smirks his sweet oblivion…

 

Pack the Renault, load the Volvo,

Take the line of least resistance;

Homeward bound in seething silence

Safe, our antisocial distance.

Mike Morrison
We had the most glorious day for the spectacle

Up on the Sapouné Heights,

With our rugs and our parasols, every receptacle

Brimming with local delights;

‘No battle today,’ said the Duke with a smile,

But our gentlemen cheered and hallooed all the while

As the miniature soldiers formed column and file

And presented themselves for the fight

 

The Highlanders held and the Heavies defended

Our lines against terrible odds,

But then some instruction was misapprehended:

The Lights were all thrown to the gods;

There were certainly less of them there than before,

But by then I’d grown weary of watching the war,

And the clouds had rolled in, which was rather a bore,

And the picnic was more or less ended.

Nick Syrett
We spread the blanket and arranged the goodies,

Mouths watering, and soon to be delighted

By salmon, lobster, creamy little puddies…

A family arrived, quite uninvited:

The parents, three young girls, a pair of babies

That rapidly grew smellier and damper,

A mangy dog that made us think of rabies,

Who, having peed against our picnic hamper,

Made off with half a leg of roasted chicken,

Then bounded back for more, obscenely drooling.

Their youngest daughter managed to be sick in

The bucket where our Bollinger was cooling.

Grabbing her twins, their mother set them teating;

The others started chewing something rancid.

‘Bon appetit!’ they said, but we weren’t eating;

We’d lost our appetite for what we’d fancied.

Sylvia O. Smith

No. 3158: watching the detective

You are invited to supply an extract describing a well-known fictional detective who finds themselves catapulted into an unfamiliar milieu. Please email up to 150 words to lucy@spectator.co.uk by midday on 15 July.