Lucy Vickery

Spectator competition winners: ‘O scintillate, bright orb celestial! Gleam’ (‘Twinkle, twinkle, Little Star’)

‘Myristica fragrans? ay, sirrah, but dwarfish;/ With an aureate drupe and an argentine seed…’ [Photo 12 / Alamy Stock Photo]

In Competition No. 3226, you were invited to rewrite, in pompous and prolix style, any well-known simple poem.

The seed for this pleasingly popular challenge was a recasting of ‘Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star’, attributed to John Raymond Carson, which begins: ‘Scintillate, scintillate, globule vivific…’ Star performers, in a most excellent and enjoyable entry, include AdrianFry’s Larkin:

Jointly and severally, your begetters rudely discombobulate your psycho-social equilibrium.Though an unintentional by-product of their actions, it is nevertheless so…

And Janine Beacham’s Williams:

I have succumbed to those purple-sheened orbs, Pomona’s amethyst treats…

Iain Morley and John MacRitchie also shone, but the winners, below, net £25 each.

Oh scintillate, bright orb celestial! Gleam, Alpha Centauri C, petite red dwarf! Light up our firmament, refracted beam; Pulsate till perihelion makes thee morph. Hail! Hydrogen and helium art thou? An astronomic marvel to mine eyes, Coruscating far beyond the Plough, Eternal fulguration of the skies. Nuclear fusions burst within thy core, Thirty trillion miles from my room A chatoyant, sidereal Koh-i-Noor! Up through my radio telescopic zoom, Refractive index scintillation saw I — It’s all the way from thee, Alpha Centauri! David Silverman/‘Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star’

Our ninth month doth thrice ten fair days possess, And equal temporal quantity doth bless The fourth month too, and of a congruent length Is the warm sixth, when the benignant strength Of Phoebus blesses all. Note too, November, When all sun’s fire is but an ashen ember, Is also furnished with days ten times three. Yet other months that cycle annually Boast one more day, for us to use or waste According to our temperaments and taste. The exception is that month which is the second, Whose days, arcanely, are for ever reckoned Scantly at twenty-eight, save in that year Which in quaternal rota doth appear, Offering a gift both welcome and benign, And we can joy in happy twenty-nine. George Simmers/‘Thirty Days Hath September’

Illustrious Mary, green-fingered nymph Named twice in song like the peerless city That lies ever-wakeful, unsleeping, On far-flung Americ’s Eastern shore! Perverse art thou, disappointing the curious Seeking guidance as to how Sweet-scented herbaceous borders And shady nooks may be conjoined To beautify an al fresco domestic plot. Who

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.


Unlock more articles



Don't miss out

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

Already a subscriber? Log in