Lucy Vickery

Question time | 1 June 2017

In Competition No. 3000 you were invited to provide an answer, in verse or prose, to a famous literary question of your choosing.

Two admirably pithy responses to Hamlet’s dilemma came courtesy of Carolyn Beckingham:
 

‘To be, or not to be: that is the question.’
‘If you’re not certain, wait,’ is my suggestion.
The choice to live can be reversed at will;
You can’t say that about the choice to kill.


 
And Dr Bob Turvey:
 

When Hamlet first posed his old question,
Suicide was not worth a suggestion.
Because, at the time,
’Twas considered a crime;
Dignitas now allows its selection.



 
And there was much to enjoy elsewhere in a large, lively and varied entry. Bill Greenwell takes the bonus fiver; the rest earn £25.
 

Silvia’s a familiar fraud,
Perpetual to men —
Idealised, and much adored,
And worshipped if she’s from abroad,
When subject to man’s pen:
 
As firm of curve as avocado!
As fresh as ripening peach!
To any swell, she’s El Dorado —
Deneuve, Moreau, Loren and Bardot —
Perfected, out of reach.
 
Nary need to know Verona
To mansplain her domains:
The dream of every careless owner,
To every dog a constant boner —
Thus Silvia to swains.
Bill Greenwell
 
When shall we three meet again?
In thunder, lightning or in rain
Or wait until the weather’s better?
 
When shall we three meet again?
Shall we catch the stopping train?
Or communicate by letter?
 
When shall we three meet again?
Shall we take an aeroplane
To Vienna or Valletta?
 
When shall we three meet again?
Shall we go to Dunsinane
Or would Basingstoke be better?
 
When shall we three meet again?
People think we’re quite insane.
Thunder, lightning, bloody rain,
And the weather’s getting wetter.
John Whitworth
 
‘How can we know the dancer from the dance?’
You ask. Start slow, know planters from their plants.
Ask and hear back no answer from the ants.
Distinguish chanting monks from games of chance,
A cantor from the wine that he decants.
Observe your dog, a panter with no pants.













































Already a subscriber? Log in

Keep reading with a free trial

Subscribe and get your first month of online and app access for free. After that it’s just £1 a week.

There’s no commitment, you can cancel any time.

Or

Unlock more articles

REGISTER

Comments

Don't miss out

Join the conversation with other Spectator readers. Subscribe to leave a comment.

Already a subscriber? Log in