Lucy Vickery

Spectator competition winners: Villanelles after Elizabeth Bishop

Spectator competition winners: Villanelles after Elizabeth Bishop
Credit: Everett Collection Historical / Alamy Stock Photo
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In Competition No. 3213 you were invited to submit a villanelle whose first line is: ‘The art of [insert gerund of choice here] isn’t hard to master…’ Floating in the slipstream of Elizabeth Bishop were some fine entries, including those by Bob Trewin and Philip Roe, who earn honourable mentions. The winners take £30.

The art of winning isn’t hard to master;

Your errors can escort you to success.

There is no better teacher than disaster.

 

Triumphs will come your way a little faster

When Nike offers you that first caress.

The art of winning isn’t hard to master.

 

The skills you gain from failed attempts will last a

Lifetime. You’ll be a loser less and less.

There is no better teacher than disaster.

 

From also-ran you’ll be a flabbergaster;

Your efforts will astonish and impress.

The art of winning isn’t hard to master.

 

Look forward to your glory; make the past a

Place where you put away defeat’s distress.

There is no better teacher than disaster.

 

Enjoy your prize. Your first success will cast a

Spell that will warm your heart with happiness.

The art of winning isn’t hard to master.

There is no better teacher than disaster.

Frank McDonald
The art of wooing isn’t hard to master

But be prepared to fine-tune your technique;

Follow my guidelines to avoid disaster:

 

Patience pays off, think steadier not faster:

Well-tended gardens flourish week by week.

The art of wooing isn’t hard to master.

 

Be you the Bard or petty poetaster,

Give it your best shot, else your future’s bleak;

Follow my guidelines to avoid disaster.

 

Complexion that of flawless alabaster?

Well tell her so, no good will come of meek;

The art of wooing isn’t hard to master.

 

It doesn’t take the prophet Zoroaster

To point out your shortcomings — speak man,speak!

Follow my guidelines to avoid disaster.

 

The game’s the same, from Delhi to Doncaster:

Love’s but an endless round of hide-and-seek;

The art of wooing isn’t hard to master —

Follow my guidelines to avoid disaster.

Mike Morrison
The art of lazing isn’t hard to master.

It’s something you can practise while you wait.

Why bother going further, higher, faster?

 

All work leaves me aghast, hard work aghaster

My lifestyle is to lounge and illustrate

The truth that lazing isn’t hard to master.

 

I might as well be sculpted alabaster

Immobile, mute, though possibly ornate.

Why bother going further, higher, faster?

 

I’m quite immune to fame, don’t need to plaster

The world’s walls with my image. As I state,

The art of lazing isn’t hard to master

 

Need help? Consult the doctor or the pastor,

Who’ll solve your problem while I hibernate.

Why bother going further, higher, faster?

 

Time runs out like spilt sugar from a castor.

All grand achievements soon evaporate.

The art of lazing isn’t hard to master.

Don’t bother going further, higher, faster.

Basil Ransome-Davies
The art of writing isn’t hard to master

Most written forms you’ll find are child’s play

Apart from villanelles: they spell disaster!

 

To find a word that rhymes with ghetto blaster

May tax the brain but all will be okay,

The art of writing isn’t hard to master,

 

The simple forms will get you writing faster,

Try poems, prose, try anything I’d say

Apart from villanelles: they spell disaster!

 

Write limericks about some potty pastor

Or sonnets on the merry month of May,

The art of writing isn’t hard to master.

 

The blank page waits as white as alabaster

For want of any writing to display

Apart from villanelles: they spell disaster!

 

The power of the written word is vaster

And mightier than the sword in every way

The art of writing isn’t hard to master

Apart from villanelles: they spell disaster!

Alan Millard
The art of painting isn’t hard to master,

As long as your name’s Michelangelo.

Think big and bold and you’ll avoid disaster.

 

I like to paint on acres of wet plaster.

Canvas is just for wimps. Give me fresco.

The art of painting isn’t hard to master.

 

Pope Julius is a really hard taskmaster.

His Sistine ceiling has to be a show.

Think big and bold and you’ll avoid disaster.

 

If things start drying out, you just paint faster —

You won’t get God right if your hand’s too slow.

The art of painting isn’t hard to master.

 

It doesn’t matter if odd slips get past you.

You can’t see trivial details from below.

Think big and bold and you’ll avoid disaster.

 

My great Creation will be a long-laster,

A masterpiece the world will always know.

The art of painting isn’t hard to master.

Think big and bold and you’ll avoid disaster.

Brian Murdoch

No. 3216: rock god

You are invited to retell a well-known biblical story in a secular style that might enhance its appeal to a contemporary audience. Email entries of up to 150 words to lucy@spectator.co.uk by midday on 8 September.