Lucy Vickery

Where there’s a Will

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In Competition No. 3062 you were invited to submit a Shakespearean-style soliloquy that a contemporary politician might have felt moved to deliver.

Inspiration for this comp came from Aryeh Cohen-Wade’s imagining, in the New Yorker, of Donald Trump performing Shakespearean soliloquies: ‘Listen — to be, not to be, this is a tough question, OK? Very tough…’

The Donald kept an uncharacteristically low profile this week, with most choosing British politicians. Theresa May and Boris Johnson in particular had plenty to get off their chests. You drew on Hamlet ‘O that this too too shrouding garb would drop…’; Macbeth ‘Is this a compromise I see before me…?’; and Richard III ‘Now is the exit of our discontent…’ to impressive effect; well done, one and all.

Honourable mentions go to Naomi Smith and Martin Parker. The winners take £25. Bill Greenwell snaffles the extra fiver.

Jeremio: Though I be pale, and far beyond the pale,

As artless in my art as rural clown,

Yet shall I hitch my waggon to that she

As hums at hems, and lights on leather hose

With half-conceal’d excitement. What bold sir

Doth not this sycophancy entertain,

That there be sport in buttering the lip

Of such an one? Ay, deputies survive,

And thrive by thrifty means. Hand her the conch,

I’ll stand abreast with her, yet at an angle —

A loyal wretch, a cozener withal,

The trusty that she tenders with her life.

I am her man, unmanned but to her face,

Bold in my braggart blood. Bring envoys in!

Wast I afeard of physick, or the surgeon?

I’ll prosper in this murk, until I burgeon.

Bill Greenwell/Jeremy Hunt

Men must at times be masters of their fate.

I know too well whose leopard shoes these are.

’Tis true, I once admired them, trod their sods

Till, led into the mire, I went my way

While others turncoat turned and, in their trail

Ran with the hares whilst hunting with the hounds;

Her courage and resilience many praised

And in her vision of a Britain freed

From bonds believed, though bound in bonds she stayed.

But I to economic vassalage

Was not resigned and so, with pluck, resigned —

Plucked in an instant from her entourage!

Yet, dithering not, I, Boris, do return

And would, with due consent, her mantle wear,

And, building from her dross a citadel,

Unite this Party, House and Land as well.

Alan Millard/Boris Johnson

Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow

Creeps in this Brexit thing from day to day

And all our yesterdays have summoned fools

To falter for an hour upon the stage

Without a resolution to this tale.

My way of life as proud Prime Minister

Has fallen into a sewer of disrepute

And I am paid mouth honour, pallid praise,

By those who would affect to call me friend.

Out! Out! The country cries and once I thought

Their rancour was with European chains

But now I sense the clamour is for me

To quit the stage and play my part no more.

So few have faith in projects I propose

That it might better be to abdicate

Before my onetime allies seal my fate.

Frank McDonald/Theresa May

Now might I do it, splat, now he’s still playing

the Fool of Fools. A letter-box! What witless toad

would set such thoughts in print — yet, stay.

Fool he may be but Folly lures the crowd

and who in true-blue shires and county fastnesses

would wish that light eclipsed? When loss of Office

dented not his pomp, his self-inflation

alike to a balloon, what powers have I,

mere Prime? Ah, but a woman holds the power

to eye the future like a hawk in flight.

To splat him now’d bestow a martyrdom

which he would ripely use. Yet to hold back

is read among illiterates in the Press

as impotence. Thus does the winner lose,

the Fool survive for more enormity.

Oh, may the gods of pratfalls work their worst.

D.A. Prince/Theresa May

Oh what a rogue, unpleasant knave am I,

To whom these apparitions do appear!

Thrice wyrd, like letterboxes, they portend

Some goodly fortune surely this way comes.

Once mere Spectator, plied my noble trade,

Then Thane of London, now of Uxbridge Thane —

Methinks they bode yet greater fame than this.

‘Hail, Boris, Thane of Downing Street’ their cry.

Blow, winds! And shake the darling Rudds and Mays,

The Raabs and Goves and Rees-Moggs all avaunt!

They have their Brexits and their entrances

Yet greatness comes from sterner stuff than this!

I’ll play the jester, act the fool and then

With jolly japes and antic disposition

I’ll woo the common groundlings, by this show,

That think one honest, that but seemeth so.

David Silverman/Boris Johnson

To leave, or not to leave — that is the question:

Whether ’tis nobler in this House to suffer

The slings and arrows of outrageous Brexiteers

Or to take arms against a sea of rebels

And by opposing end them. To sack them all -Tonight in one fell swoop, and so to end

The heartache, and the thousand natural shocks

That I am heir to. ’Tis a consummation

Devoutly to be wished. To sack, to sleep

At last — perchance to dream; ay, there’s the rub,

For in that well earned sleep what dreams may come

When we have shuffled off this deadly toil

Of Brexit, that hampers now our every

Best intention. In one bound shall we be free,

For I would rather bear those ills we have

Than fly to others that we know not of.

Tim Raikes/Theresa May

No 3065: all’s well that ends well

You are invited to provide happy endings for famous plays, novels or poems that end badly (please specify). Please email entries of up to 16 lines/150 words to lucy@spectator.co.uk by midday on 5 September.