In Competition No. 3173 you were invited to give a fresh twist to a well-known single line of poetry by adding a line of your own to it.
This was a wildly popular competition, and my inbox was flooded with entries. Many of you were thinking along the same lines, which produced a fair amount of duplication. There were lots of variations on this topical adaptation of Wordsworth, courtesy of John Priestland: ‘I wandered lonely as a cloud,/ As household mixing’s not allowed.’ And on this new slant on Milton, from Iain Morley — ‘Tomorrow to fresh woods and pastures new/To tear them up for dear old HS2.’ D.A. Prince’s take on Yeats — ‘I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree/ In case the Government decrees that we must be Tier Three’ — was echoed frequently elsewhere in the entry.
The winners, printed below, pocket a fiver per couplet.
“I wandered lonely as a cloudAnd uttered filthy thoughts aloud.Basil Ransome-Davies/Wordsworth
“Euclid alone has looked on Beauty bare.She slapped his face and told him not to stare.They also serve who only stand and wait
And get the sack because their trains run late.Chris O’Carroll/St Vincent Millay/Milton
“Hope is the thing with feathers. (Not lust, that’s whips and leathers.)Janine Beacham/Dickinson
“My heart aches, and a drowsy numbness painsWhen Uncle Jim, who ‘spots’ them, speaks of trains.A book of Verses underneath the Bough
Is badly smeared with pigeon droppings now.I travelled among unknown men
But shall not vote Lib Dem again.Adrian Fry/Keats/Khayyam/Wordsworth
“I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,And pick my way through the litter-strewn shore, as turds go floating by.Janet Adams/Masefield
“The sure extinction that we travel toIs better than the year we’ve just been through.Max Gutmann/Larkin
“How do I love thee? Let me count the ways,Though doggie-style’s my favourite these days.G.M. Davis/Barrett Browning
“When I consider how my light is spent,It should have been included in the rent.Mike Morrison/Milton
“Before the Roman came to Rye, or out to Severn strode,There were contraflows and closures on the Swindon-Sarum road.Nick Syrett/Chesterton
“I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,Although the locals glare at me and shout to ask me why.Katie Mallett/Masefield
“O that this too, too solid flesh would melt!I must lose weight, or buy a bigger belt.A.R. Duncan-Jones/Shakespeare
“’Twas Brillig, and the slithy tovesGrimmed smarmsy smurques like Michael Gove’s.Come friendly bombs and fall on Slough:
My wife’s ex-boyfriend lives there now.David Silverman/Carroll/Betjeman
“O for a beaker full of the warm South,and crackle of pork scratchings in my mouth.Nick MacKinnon/Keats
“I summon up remembrance of things pastTo make my novel last and last and last.Frank McDonald/Shakespeare
“Earth has not anything to show more fair —If you can see it through polluted air.Alan Langley/Wordsworth
“In Xanadu did Kubla KhanStrike trade deals with Uzbekistan.Brian Murdoch/Coleridge
“Deep in the shady sadness of a vale,He wept because his sandwiches were stale.Philip Wilson/Keats
“At Flores in the Azores Sir Richard Grenville lay‘Oh no,’ he groan’d as he woke up, ‘another bloody boring day.’J.R. Johnson/Tennyson
“A sudden blow: the great wings beating stillThe seagull nicks my chips in rain-soaked Rhyl.Tracy Davidson/Yeats
“A sweet disorder in the dressWill get your picture in the press.Bill Greenwell/Herrick
“Do you remember an inn, Miranda, do you remember an inn?I don’t suppose you do, my dear, you drank it dry of gin.J.M.L. Harris/Belloc
“If I should die, think only this of me:‘He was a fool to eat that clam for tea.’P.M. Davidson/Brooke
No 3176: to the city
The poet laureate Simon Armitage wrote a poem that started ‘Dear London…’ You are invited to submit a poem addressing a city of your choice. Please email entries of up to 16 lines to firstname.lastname@example.org by midday on 18 November. We are now returning to paying winners by cheque, unless you state on your entry that you would prefer to be paid by bank transfer.