Lucy Vickery

Spectator competition winners: the pleasures of bad poetry

Canty Bay, immortalised by William McGonagall in his poem ‘Beautiful North Berwick and its surroundings’ [Design Pics Inc/Shutterstock]

In Competition No. 3167 you were invited to submit a rhymed poem that is leadenly prosaic in tone and content.

When it comes to the joys of bad poetry, McGonagall tends to steal the show. But I also have a soft spot for Amanda McKittrick Ros, whose novels — and verse — provide passages of inadvertent hilarity to rival the worst of Bulwer Lytton (eyes are described as ‘globes of glare’; alcohol is the ‘powerful monster of mangled might’).

An honourable mention goes to George Simmers for his Wordsworthian makeover — ‘I don’t think anywhere could be more pleasant!/ Frankly, you’d have to be boring to pass by…’ — and to Richard Spencer and Janey Wilks. The winners earn £30 each.

The fields behind my cottage stretchLike rectangles of greenWhere grow such plants as chard and vetchTo make a vivid scene. I muse upon it hour by hour,Such healthy food for thought.Not by the classroom but the powerOf Nature we are taught. Thus reasoning, I understandThat life’s not just for mirth.We must be moral agents andRespect all life on Earth.  We sit so often silently Though feeling far from flat,Two souls in perfect peace, just meAnd Leopold, my cat. Basil Ransome-Davies

I telephoned the surgery to ask for an appointmentThough not to get more prostate pills or haemorrhoidal ointmentBut being keen to guard against the seasonal infectionI thought it best to book up for my annual flu injection. The queue was very long, so long that some stood in the streetAnd wondered if the drizzly rain might soon turn into sleet,But while they stood two feet apart in dull and chilly weatherThey made the best of things and said, ‘We’re all in this together.’ Inside the posters on the wall were interesting to view,They showed you things that some might catch and, if so, what to do.The

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