1 OCTOBER 1988, Page 60




In Competition No. 1542 you were in- vited to take the rhyme scheme of a pre- 20th-century sonnet and produce a new sonnet up to date in manner and matter.

I am always nervously aware that misin- terpretation of the words in which I couch my competition-setting is possible (see Barbara Smoker's letter in last week's issue). This week I had intended you to duplicate the actual rhyme words, but some of you thought it was enough to duplicate the rhyme sounds. As it turned out, to my relief, the best entries all belonged to the former category. There are six good winners, printed below, who win f14 each. Catherine Benson, who enterpri- singly used Jones Very's 'The Fugitive Slaves' as her springboard, gets a special mention. The bonus bottle of Château Cantemerle 1979, kindly donated by Asshetons, Solicitors, 99 Aldwych, Lon- don WC2, goes to C. J. D. Doyle.

Sidney: 'Leave me, 0 Love, which reachest but to dust. . .'

Another sculpture — something else to dust! Why does my lover load me up with things? His pot plants die. His natty gadgets rust. There is a curse on every gift he brings. I can't convince the chap, try as I might, That truly 1 don't want to Have, but Be. I don't desire a Habitat spotlight, I am content as long as I can see.

I don't consult his bloody Good Food Guide, His Jeffrey Archers bore me half to death. I wear my hair without his silver slide, But telling him all this, I waste my breath.

For still the gifts pour in, and I can see That in the end there'll be no space for me.

(C. J. D. Doyle)

Hopkins: 'Thou art indeed just, Lord, if I contend.. .'

A holiday's for resting, I contend, And for myself I'd be quite happy just To sit and read; but Jill last evening must Suggest we pay a visit to Bourne End (Two hundred miles each way) to see a friend. Thesiger's book on desert sand and dust Would satisfy my modest wanderlust Far better than the day we're going to spend. I hope we don't have trouble with the brakes Maybe I ought to have them checked again. And how that old exhaust-pipe bangs and shakes!

Motorway driving can be quite a strain.. . I'll switch the radio on before Jill wakes: Perhaps Frank Green will forecast heavy rain.

(Geoffrey Riley)

Wordsworth: 'Tax not the royal Saint with vain expense .

My UK tour ain't sparing no expense. If things turn out the way my agent planned, We're gonna be the biggest goddam band In Europe too. Back home we're just immense. And don't think we got no intelligence We hired a guy wised up on ancient lore Like all that mystic Indian stuff. What's more, The sound's so hot it don't need to make sense. We've got the DJs fixed to raise the roof And plug us all the way from prison cells To — what's that palace where your monarch dwells?

Sometimes I feel I'm never gonna die, But if I do, these golden discs are proof That I was here. That's immortality.

(Noel Petty)

Milton: 'Avenge, 0 Lord, thy slaughtered Saints,

whose bones . .

I contemplate a pile of greasy bones, Once barbecued Spare ribs, now chewed and cold.

The meat from them (it tasted tough and old) Lies on my stomach like a sack of stones.

I groan. My wife complains about my groans.

We settle down to poker, but I fold With every lousy hand. A joint is rolled, But interrupted by the children's moans. They should be fast asleep by now. Not they: The little scumbags are too keen to sow Domestic discord. I get up. I sway.

My wife's lip curls. I feel a cancer grow.

Oh damn it all, where did we lose our way? What happened to the bliss? Why all this woe? (Basil Ransome-Davies) Shakespeare: 'My mistress' eyes are nothing like the sun..

I must confess I do not read the Sun;

Few other things can made me see so red. It's sad to think that nothing can be done While Rupert Murdoch yet remains its head. To loudly damn all that which is not white, To boldly flaunt young maidens' breasts and cheeks — Is this what makes the working man delight? The sick, sick dross that from this tabloid reeks! I wonder if four million readers know The shallowness The Sun Says' leaders sound. The headlines by themselves should make men go

And emigrate to cleaner, foreign ground. The Sun, alas, is of a breed not rare, But, in its way, is quite without compare.

(Paul Weeks)

Shakespeare: 'Let me not to the marriage of true minds . .

O for the furniture of modern minds!

To understand, perhaps at last to love That alien world where the initiate finds 'Data' deep-laid, which 'wiping' can remove.. . Give me a pencil, I can make my mark; Hand me a biro and I am not shaken; A typewriter? With courage I'll embark Though on two fingers be my voyage taken. But those mysterious terms — my blushing cheeks Admit my ignorance — whence do they come? If I sat down and studied them for weeks Would I be wiser? If the day of doom Finds me unprogrammed still, what then is proved?

Admired is not absorbed, nor envied loved.

(Mary Holtby)