Lucy Vickery

Sickly sweet

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In Competition No. 2760 you were invited to submit an example of the kind of treacly inspirational poetry that adorns the office walls of a life coach and might be quoted by motivational speakers.

Banality and triteness are not as easy to churn out as you might think. ‘I found this extraordinarily difficult,’ confessed Gerard Benson. ‘I gained a new respect for Ella Wheeler Wilcox [‘Laugh, and the world laughs with you;/ Weep, and you weep alone’] and her like.’ Still, there were some magnificently nauseating offerings. D.A. Prince leads the field and is rewarded with the bonus fiver. Her fellow winners take £25 each. (But remember, unlucky losers, there is no such thing as failure, only early attempts at success.)

The time for making changes is TODAY.

Your fortune is the golden hours you spend

in helping others on life’s stony way.

Remember, every human needs a friend.

A smile will lighten up the darkest road

and heal the wounded hearts of those you meet.

Angels count up the kindnesses bestowed

on nameless strangers in the city street.

Hold back the words that hurt: speak only good.

Cherish the Truth and cast aside the Lie.

A single tree becomes a living wood

and stands its tallest reaching for the sky.

It’s not the winning but the taking part,

and sharing joy and hope with all the rest.

The gift of giving is the greatest Art.

We all have, deep within, a Personal Best.

D.A. Prince

Follow your heart where it leads you.

Always be open and caring.

Be there when somebody needs you.

Be modest, yet also be daring.

Stand up and give your opinion.

Sit when you’ve nothing to say.

Lead, and be nobody’s minion.

Tomorrow begins with today.

Always know truth is the master

Yet truth is your heart, so pursue

The passions that make it beat faster.

Your soul’s destination is you.

And though on the day that you get there,

if you have the pluck to arrive,

the sun of your brief life will set there,

you’ll know you were truly alive!

Robert Schechter

The race where all can reach the goal

Means you can actualise your soul

By always giving of your best.

Never say die. Life is a test.

All who enter must have prizes.

There are no losers, just achievers.

Each morning a new sun rises

Beaming strength on all believers.

Science proceeds, nothing stands still.

Our world today’s more good than ill.

He who aspires always succeeds :

The god within is all you need.

Dream your dream, reach up for your star,

Follow your bliss wherever you are.

Keep your courage through each day.

We here will help you on the way.

Margaret J. Howell

You’d rather spread the light than curse the dark.

Your life can be the change you hope to see.

Your thoughtful tread leaves footprints in the sand.

The smallest good deed strikes some larger spark.

A challenge means an opportunity.

The sky’s held up by every helping hand.

You know you’ll always be your own best friend.

You know it isn’t over till the end.

The past is a box you’ve learned to think outside.

You take life one day at a time today.

A stranger’s just a friend you haven’t met.

A steady pace outlasts a reckless ride.

If one route fails you, try some other way.

No need to fear what hasn’t happened yet.

You know it isn’t over till the end.

You know you’ll always be your own best friend.

Chris O’Carroll

The road of life is broad and long

And many are its woes,

But treat your journey like a song

At which the spirit glows.

Do not despair when trouble calls

Or skies are grey, not blue,

For after thunderclouds and squalls

The sun will shine anew.

True friends are like fresh-minted coins,

Their worth supremely high.

Be sure no bitterness purloins

The happiness they buy.

The hopeful and courageous soul

Which firm ideals enthuse

Will always reach its chosen goal,

While malcontents will lose.

Basil Ransome-Davies

Out there in Helmand there’s a guy like you,

Cool, focused, caring zilch for praise or fame.

He calmly does the things he needs to do;

He knows he is not there to lose the game.

Like him, you’re living at the end that’s sharp;

Like him you can be tough and will not shake.

Like him, you’ll learn to shrug when moaners carp,

Because you know success is yours to take.

Yes, he has feelings underneath the mask

(There is a letter kept close to his heart.)

But he’s a man, with eyes fixed on the task;

Like you, he’s in there when the tough times start.

You can be steadfast, bold and strong of nerve;

You have the character to live the dream,

So do it! Grab the bonus you deserve!

We all deserve it. We’re the Barclays team.

George Simmers

No. 2763: patchwork poetry

You are invited to submit a poem that is composed of lines taken from well-known poems (16 lines maximum, no more than one line from any one poem and please identify sources). Email entries, wherever possible, to by midday on 5 September.