1 FEBRUARY 1986, Page 40


Split rhymes


In Competition No. 1405 you were asked to write a 'split-rhymed' poem in the manner of Lewis Carroll's couplet: 'Who would not give all else for two p/ en- nyworth only of beautiful Soup?'

This idea was given to me by Jeremy Wingate-Saul, who wrote to draw my attention to the fact that according to Robert Swann and Frank Sedgwick in The Making of Verse there are a number of monosyllables in English that have no exact rhymes. The curious list consists of warmth, month, wolf, golf, sylph, breadth, width, depth, scarce, wasp, pint, bilge, film and the relevant ordinal numbers from fifth to twelfth. He suggested that the only way to solve the problem was by 'split-rhyming' and proposed a competition in which a `split-rhyme' poem should be written con- taining seven of these words. I thought this was a bit tough, as well as likely to involve too many slim women golfers finding wasps in their lagers at the nineteenth hole in midsummer, so I widened the rules. Apart from Carroll's couplet I know of no other example of 'split-rhyme' verse: if anyone else does, I should be grateful for informa- tion. The prize horses over this bumpy course were an easily separable bunch, and get £7 each. Basil Ransome-Davies, in a return to alcohol-winning form, has the bonus bottle of Champagne Victor Canard (Brut) pre- sented by The John Milroy Soho Wine Mart, 3 Greek St, London Wl.

My brow is low, p- referring soap To Leonard- o or the Bard.

I don't pooh-pooh St- ein, Joyce or Proust, But find their mod- ernism odd.

In Dallas I f- ind truth to life: Upmarket Tex- ans, booze and sex.

I like Hill S- treet Blues's thrills,

And Aristot- le not a lot. (Basil Ransome-Davies) For me, Lloret and Beni- dorm aren't worth a penny. Give me a sweet Itali- an town above a valley. Some think that Montalcin- o tastes of saccharine, And others say that Poggi- bonsi's rather stodgy; But once I'm on the Appe- nines I'm really happy.

Alas! I've no financi- al means to pick my fancy.

A weekend break in Middle-

sbrough's all that I can fiddle. (Peter Lyon) When I was looking for the Gen- ts I sought a simple legend: MEN. Instead I had to look (when squiff- y it is hard to spot the glyph) Three times to be assured that wom- en differed when the lights were dim By having skirts where we had trous- ers and that anyone with nous Could quite ignore such indicat- ors to what Adam and his mate Had ample time beneath their tree t-

o scrutinise before they'd eat The apple which sparked off the troub- le caused each day in lounge and pub.

(Nicholas Murray)

I get these dreams in which I ex-

perience a change of sex And every night at Covent Gar- den get to be an opera star.

I warble through Puccini's Tur- andot with passion and allure And take the title-role in Carm- en with vivacity and charm. My Jewel-song in Gouond's Faus- t leaves not a dry eye in the house, While Tosca, Butterfly and Norm- a take the opera-house by storm.

But, sad to say, my raucous bar- itone is not so popular At home; it gives them all the creep- s and guarantees that none can sleep.

(J. J. Webster)

I munch warm chestnuts, dawdling down the Bou' M- ich' in the lamp-alleviated gloom

of a Left Bank winter night, while Notre Dame p- reens like a swan. My skin and hair are damp, thanks to a casual wash of city rain. T- onight I don't intend to learn to paint, or fall in love, or lounge at La Rotonde, s- ipping a pastis, eyeing all the blondes.

I find my Paris in the back-street bar c- rammed with blue boiler suits, or in the park (so small and off-the-track it will deter s- tandard tourists) that suits us lone flaneurs.

(Nigel Bunker) Belated resolutions, now that eigh- ty-five has shambled on its weary way: Aerobics, jogging, diet rich in fi- bre; roughage, bran (though only Heaven knows why, But all the Sundays plug it). Then, less whis- ky and more water (penury brings this); A sober head for Proust, Mann, and Boccacc- io (all literary blind spots); match Odd socks, file letters; write more of the nov- el that I've written the first chapter of; Learn Russian, and the oboe; master Triv- ial Pursuit, the office micro; give More time to meditation, Zen or Yo- ga. New year, so it's worth another go.

(D. A. Prince) A Perranporth angler who daily caught two k- ippers (or three) from a babbling brook Hadn't the spine-chilling knowledge that his c- atch was achieved at a terrible risk, For he'd never heard of that long-lost lore th- at kippers are killers at Perranporth.

One day he fell in and oh woe! for as do p- iranhas, those kippers reduced him to soup. The moral is clear. Never risk fishing for k- ippers but go for a nice quiet walk.

(Barbara Cole) 'If love wanes, and wane it may, d- earest, and your beauty fade, You'll still be my guiding star, t- rustee of my faithful heart.

You'll always be my sugar-plum p- rincess, though you turn to frump.'

Will you love me when I am grey-d- awn, can't stand up on parade? My dear, you frown, I hear you sigh n- ow I've laid it on the line; But time will take its dreadful toll, d- arling, and passion's stream run cold.'

Youth's not given, only lent. I-

magine us when we are twenty! (N. E. Sorel)