Lucy Vickery

Spectator competition winners: verse obituaries for Berlusconi

‘Let’s have a dirge for Silvio Berlusconi/ A magnate from the land of macaroni…’ [TIZIANA FABI / Contributor]

In Competition No. 3207 you were invited to submit a verse obituary of Silvio Berlusconi. The Italian former prime minister who, despite sex scandals and court battles, managed three stints as PM, died last month aged 86. His more startling gaffes included suggesting that Abruzzo earthquake survivors see their situation as ‘a weekend of camping’ and describing Obama as ‘young, handsome and tanned’. The winners, printed below, pocket £30 each.

Singular Silvio, Italy’s serial populist leader and
Demagogue basked in the glow of funereal
           dignity, peacefully lying in state,
Though one could picture him post-existentially
           barking at archangels unreverentially,
Somewhere near Limbo but unpenitentially
           keeping things raucous and carnivalesque.

Now’s not the time for a crisp analytical, slightly
           judgmental or modestly critical
Tone when assessing the more-than-political
           ramifications of Silvio’s fate;
Try not to mention his cynical pandering, bullying,
           bribing and scurrilous slandering,
Or to opine if you found his philandering often
           disturbing and sometimes grotesque.

Strive not to dwell on his gross incivility, carnal
           excesses and want of humility
And, though perhaps with a sense of futility, make
           no allusion to Rome very Late;
Never mind scandals that made him seem weaselly,
           dubious power plays carried out sleazily,
Facelifts and transplants of hair that can easily
           make a man look a bit mannikin-esque.

This is the time when we ought to exclusively
           focus on singing his praises effusively,
Not letting facts and his record intrusively keep us
           from deeming some shred of him great;
Now’s not the moment to vent psychologically,
           pen a philippic or rant pedagogically,
Or to be joking that, etymologically,
           Berlusconismo is linked to burlesque.

Alex Steelsmith

Let’s have a dirge for Silvio Berlusconi
Born with a streak of passion in his hair,
A magnate from the land of macaroni.

He might have earned the title Al Caponi
For being Italy’s famous racketeer.
Let’s have a dirge for Silvio Berlusconi.

Always as playful as a Shetland pony
He romped through many a torrid love affair,
A magnate from the land of macaroni.

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