13 DECEMBER 1986, Page 61


Vice verse


In Competition No. 1450 you were asked for a poem in praise of one of the Seven Deadly Sins.

Judging by the size of the entry, Pride successfully roused Sloth this week, except in the deplorable case of David Cram, whose celebration of the latter stopped somnolently with the title. Sloth, the only sin none of us minds admitting to (if Dr Johnson thought it was his besetting vice, couldn't we all do with a dose of it?), was easily the favourite theme. I had expected Gluttony to be sung in the rich style of Epicure Mammon, but the level was usual- ly Bunterish, and the grub itemised rather off-putting. Several of you wrote about Avarice (not one of the Seven), probably confusing it with Covetousness. Among these was Bridget Rees:

In Heaven the things I most would miss Are the small joys of Avarice - The cheap peach-cans that come unlabelled, Using the free loos marked 'Disabled', Pub toilet-rolls and steamed-off stamps And bulbs at lower watts and amps..

Other distinguished runners-up were Philip A. Nicholson, Ron Jowker, Michael Brereton, F.D. Gardiner, Peter Wingate, Berri Wellgell, and a lady from South Africa who extolled adultery with infec- tious enthusiasm under the name of Jezebel. The winners printed below are awarded £8 each except for Messrs Good- will and MacDonald, who get fivers, and the bonus bottle of Ferreira Late Bottled Vintage Port, donated by Stowells of Chelsea, is the property from now on of Grane de Morgan.

Casting bored eyes over my neighbour's asses, Oxen and wife, I feel a guilty twinge; Voracious coveters should gaze and whinge, Eating their hearts out, moaning what a farce is The ban of ownership, how green the grass is On which these beauties graze — but not a tinge Unmans my cheek; the creatures make me cringe. Such as desire can keep the rural classes. No, let me praise diviner discontents: Evening parades where, glassily confined, Successive images my vision fix - Suave suits, silk shirts, soft shoes, slyly designed Out of my reach: a sin whose innocence Keeps me untainted by the other six.

(Grane de Morgan) I love all Deadly Sins, I seek and adore them; They're all such splendid fun, Every single one, That's why I'm for them.

But, given just one choice, I'd plump for Sloth; For to get up off my bum And go to work, by gum I am most loth. Content, I sprawl all day Upon my belly; Watching, just for kicks, The other deadly six Sins on the telly. (Ron Rubin) Of all my sins I am most loth To shed my Spiritual Sloth.

How peaceful would the world have been If slothful saints had ruled the scene: No Crusades, no Inquisitions, No gin-and-Bible foreign missions, No need to make, or hear, confessions, No penitent-stools and no kirk-sessions, No grabbing harmless passers-by With 'Are you saved? If not, say why!'

No knocking at a housewife's door Discussing Matthew 24 While baby cries and milk boils o'er — You get my drift — I'll say no more.

(0. Banfield) Sweet Sloth! What fool, in praising you, Writes sixteen lines when two will do?

(E.S. Goodwill) Each night I lie Alone with my Imaginary lover And what I do, Or how, or who.

Nobody can discover.

I contemplate And variate The ploys of carnal junction And never tire In my desire For that ferocious function.

(Jermyn Thynne) Lust, Old English for desire - Reflection of the heavenly fire; The necessary mental spark For fruitful and improving work.

If in His image he created, He, methinks, cannot be sated.

(J.A.S. MacDonald) Of all the Seven Deadly Sins And lesser ones beside,

On due reflection I must own A preference for PRIDE.

SLOTH has subhuman undertones, ENVY'S undignified, And Gurrroxy just makes me sick They're not a match for PRIDE. LUST has its charms but won't endure, WRATH can be justified, For AVARICE one needs some wealth, I've none, I'm stuck with PRIDE.

(John Sweetman) My family often accuse me of gluttony, Just because I've finished off a second plate of something gloriously beefy or muttony, But their opprobrium ought to be reserved for the sort of fellow who finds everything so yummy That his eyes turn out to be too big for his tummy.

Whereas I'm one of those guys Whose tummy is plenty big enough for his eyes. So let's hear it for gluttony, and for groaning tables, lavish and candle-lit, For those that can handle it. (Noel Petty)