In Competition No. 3304, you were invited to submit Shakespeare’s reflections on a pressing issue of your choice.
In BBC Radio Four’s Taking Issue With Shakespeare, which prompted this task, Michael Gove discusses levelling up with reference to King Lear, Will Self reflects on toxic masculinity in Hamlet, and Gordon Brown draws parallels between a rabble-rousing Marc Antony and Donald Trump.
Many of your entries addressed our robot overlords. Here’s David Shields:
AI or not AI: that is the question;
Whether it is safer in the end to limit
The capabilities of such artifice
Or to take arms against a sea of robots
And by opposing end them?…
Hon menshes to George Simmers and D.A. Prince. The winners earn £25 each.
To vape or not to vape, that is the question:
Whether ’tis prudent for the body’s sake
To shun raw sotweed and inhale unburnt
The essence of my Lady Nicotine
That fills the ambient air with strange perfumes
As if the tribes of Araby had gathered
In scented celebration of their choice,
Each to his own, thus all together making
A multifarious symphony of smells
That woos the nose as music doth the ear.
Though studious men have vouchsafed that the vape
Harms less the vital organs than the pipe,
And leaves less foul the evidence of use,
Judgment on high will have the final word.
Vapers and smokers all will congregate
To breathe the unholy fire and smoke of Hell.
When I beheld the loss, such grief it took
To summon up remembrance of things past:
The purity, the babbling of the brook,
The chaste, untainted river, flowing fast.
’Twas beauty’s legacy, to cherish yet
The water’s vibrant flow that once beguiled
Our senses; though that place wherein we met
For sport and play is now debased, defiled
With excrement, abandoned filth, from whence
We keep our distance, danger doth abound,
The threat therein of plague and pestilence,
Yet who will halt while profit’s to be found?
When man deems nature over wealth, ’tis then
Our waters could perchance be clear again.