Lucy Vickery

Spectator competition winners: Shakespeare on vaping

[Photo: gabrielabertolini]

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.

Basil Ransome-Davies

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.

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