Lucy Vickery

Spectator competition winners: What was Edgar Allen Poe created for?

Spectator competition winners: What was Edgar Allen Poe created for?
‘Was I meant for greater glories than to pen detective stories…?’. Credit AF Fotografie / Alamy Stock Photo
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In Competition No. 3253, you were invited to write a poem entitled ‘Song of Myself’ in the style of the poet of your choice. High

fives all round for a terrific entry, and an honourable mention to Martin Parker/Ogden Nash:

From spermery to wormery 

via germery and infirmery. 


Looking back, 

life has been mostly alas and alack.

The winners pocket £30 each.

live and let unlive my  

country – ’tis of me i sing:  

a poet no cap fits as i  

make love my everflowing spring  


i am, ergo (i think) i feel  

no need of why, no deadmen’s rules;  

a calculated life will fail –  

the truly wise are wholly fools  


but always, firstandlast, know this:  

to see through me is what i plead –  


don’t speak my words but leave your lips to kiss  

and use your eyes to see the flowers unread  


W.J. Webster
Late one night as I sat thinking deeply in my chamber drinking,  

Eyeing embers’ shadows slinking furtively across the floor,  

While my mood was bleak and dreary, suddenly I felt an eerie,  

Ominous and haunting query burning in my bosom’s core:  


Was I meant for greater glories than to pen detective stories  

While this winged memento mori’s perched above my chamber door?  

In a fit of doubt I wondered if my Maker’s hand had blundered;  

Raging inner demons thundered, ‘What was Poe created for?’  


Then the demons, growing frantic, chanted, ‘Let him write romantic  

Poems touched with necromantic overtones we can’t ignore!  

Though his critics may be vicious, and biographers malicious,  

Vile and flagrantly flagitious, time will even up the score.’  


‘Let them call him wretched loser, alcoholic, drunkard, boozer,  

Melancholic, drug abuser – as they will, but we implore –  

Though he’ll die depressed and lonely, when they find him lying pronely,  

Let the living call him only Poe the poet nothing more!’  


Alex Steelsmith
I wander lonely in a crowd  

And lonelier in vale and hills.  

I see how winter snow becomes  

A host of golden daffodils.  

I wish, when on my couch I lie,  

My winter too might turn to spring  

And all the aches that age has sent  

Might disappear and make me sing.  

Earth has not anything to show  

What pastures wait me, bye and bye;  

There are no signs that this old bug  

Will turn into a butterfly.  

But I can walk and swim and write,  

Drink favourite wine and eat my fill,  

And though the years have slowed me down  

This mighty heart is beating still.  


Frank McDonald
I’m lookin’ in the mirror, gawpin’ ’ard at what I see:  

A scribbler, brash, in full moustache a-starin’ back at me.  

I spy no trace of Bombay pup, no squib at Westward Ho!  

But just the pompous Empire that the nobs desire to know.  


O, it’s Kiplin’ this, and Kiplin’, that, and ‘Kiplin’, recite If’;  

But there’s nix for little Rudyard, though I’m still in ’ere, bored stiff.  

Still in’ ere bored stiff, me Lords, still in ’ere bored stiff,  

O, they’ll eulogise Old Kiplin’, but I’m still in ’ere bored stiff.  


I gaze into the mirror, see the Kiplin’ peepers flash  

And think of all what’s made ’em so, the potboilers, the cash  

From Simla days to English sward, he’s set me down in ink.  

Am I still ’im? Is he still me? Is there a missin’ link?  


O, it’s Kiplin’ this, and Kiplin’, that and ‘Kiplin’, more Just So!’  

But the dreamin’ boy that’s Rudyard can’t be seen and mustn’t show.  

Mustn’t show at all, these days, simply mustn’t show:  

O, a Nobel Prize for Kiplin’ but young Rudyard mustn’t show.  


Adrian Fry
Consult the whirring Hummingbird  

That hovers – in a Blur –  

And quaffs red cups of Trumpet Vine –  

Perhaps she’ll not demur.  


The close-mouthed Snapdragon – if pressed –  

May part her Pouting Lips –  

The Hollyhocks may chance to stoop  

To injudicious Slips.  


The tactful Robin, tiny Wren,  

And stately Heron – these  

Are trusted Counsellors – and they  

respect my privacies.  


Question the whispering Birches  

And interrogate the Bee –  

All are my Confidantes. Who knows  

Their Mysteries – knows me.  


Susan McLean

No. 3256: prosaic

You are invited to take a well-known poem (please specify) and recast it as a short story of up to 150 words. Email entries to by midday on 29 June.