Lucy Vickery

Preposterous pet

In Competition No. 2939 you were invited to submit a poem about a famous person and an unlikely pet.

There’s plenty of inspiration out there in the real world. A photograph from 1969 shows Salvador Dalí emerging from the subway, his rather dejected-looking pet anteater in tow. And then there is Gérard de Nerval, who considered the lobster to be an ideal companion: ‘They are peaceful, serious creatures … and they don’t gobble up your monadic privacy like dogs do.’ He used to take his for a walk round the Paris-Royal in Paris on a lead made of blue silk ribbon.

You more than matched these -bonkers pairings. Theresa May’s jellyfish; Boris Johnson’s loris; Attila the Hun’s hippo; Jane Austen’s axolotl; all deserve an honourable mention. Those entries printed below take £20. The bonus fiver belongs to Basil Ransome–Davies.

George Eliot’s an honoured name,
But few have cared to note
That backing up this classy dame
And everything she wrote,
Thus magnifying the acclaim
That floated George’s boat,
Were Goethe, who copped all the fame,
And Archibald, her goat.
He was a youthful Appenzell,
But wise beyond his years,
Whose ego-massaging would quell
The author’s doubts and fears.
The tinkling of Archie’s bell
Was music to her ears
And when she came to eat him, well —
She shed remorseful tears.
Basil Ransome-Davies
When in remembrance of times past we glance
At what was loved by people who were great,
Let us recall how Shakespeare got by chance
A she-bear as his comforter and mate.
One Christmas Day when actors had their feast
A bear was brought by special invitation
And Shakespeare, being partial to the beast,
Brought her back home to give him inspiration.
One evening as he stroked her gentle head
Looking for words to celebrate his art
He smiled to see her resting by his bed;
For her, he thought, I must compose a part.

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