In Competition No. 1421 you were in- vited to write a poem in which the last two words of each line rhyme.
The last time this competition was set was about 15 years ago, when you were challenged to rhyme the last three words in the manner of Thomas Hood's 'A Noctur- nal Sketch'. The results were poor, so I made it easier this time round. I cannot resist quoting (with apologies to those who know it already) the opening lines of Hood's bravura piece, which always fills me with hilarity mixed with stupefaction: Even is come; and from the dark Park, hark The signal of the setting sun — one gun! And six is sounding from the chime, prime
time To go and see the Drury Lane Dane slain, Or hear Othello's jealous doubt spout out, Or Macbeth raving at that shade-made blade, Denying to his frantic clutch much touch . . .
The difficulty is to find rhyme-words which have an equal stress: 'for more' is obvious- ly weaker than 'four more'. In judging, I gave points to those who managed the rhymes without disturbing the metre, and I decided to allow a hyphenated word, like 'helter-skelter', to count as two words.
Over to the winners, who pull in £7 each. The best losers were John Stanley, Charles Carr, Gerard Benson, Alice Renton and Katie Mallett. The bonus bottle of Comte de Robart Champagne (Rosé Brut), pre- sented by the Ebury Wine Company, 139 Ebury Street, London SW1, goes to Paul Griffin.
Sadly I dream of a wine mine Where, in separate wells, Moselles Cool, and fountains of Vouvray play; Where, in the bottommost beds, reds Wait to be drawn out by me, free; And, in a pressurised vein, champagne.
Dreams, dreams! Set the table, Mabel; Unwrap the chips and the plaice, Grace; Longingly as we feed, read From the grease-stained pages, dearest (nearest We ever get to the Hippocrene scene) Auberon Waugh on the new crus. (Paul Griffin) Sid's parties have a Babel-grammar clamour That more exclusive soirees have not got; The music hits you like a hammer; glamour Comes in the shapes of Doreen, Charlotte, Dot.
One glass of punch — and watch the ceiling reeling
While Doreen's tango makes the floor see-saw; Dot's in a clinch and Charlotte's squealing, feeling
As pickled as an onion, but more raw.
Waking next day, with stomach churning, burning, Tongue like a kipper, head like a death-bell knell,
Never again's the message, turning learning Into experience. It was — well — Hell!
(D. A. Prince)
It was more of a thick snick Induced by the thin spin On the drying cricket wicket Than a genuine hot shot With an upright flat bat. When the ball was caught short Of the rope-marked fine line Which marks a four score, There arose an 'Out!' shout From the whole loud crowd.
There was a no-ball call. (Ian Baird)
I used to swallow that old Tory story
That under every bed there lurked Red Ted;
I used to execrate my Labour neighbour: Then someone said it killed my street cred. dead.
Now I oppose (I'm very strident!) Trident; I carry banners reading REFUSE CRUISE!; I'm dead against that hot potato, Nato; I'm overjoyed to see the true Blues lose.
Strange are the ways of my great passion, fashion: I thought the Left would be a real mean scene, But now I've exorcised the fogey bogey Friends see me as a boring, green has-been. (Peter Norman) 0 who will set me free — A prisoner in an age cage Like those poor beasts we see Who've reached the final rage stage? Against the bars their feet beat, Their faces full of woe show That life's no more the sweet treat It was — and don't I know so!
Alike the wild and tame claim Protraction of their bloom boom; At last it's all the same game: Your freedom is your tomb room.
(Mary Holtby) Why can't we manage one single tingle? Are our nerve-ends on a go-slow? Beneath us the sand and the shingle mingle, But for us, I'm afraid, it's no go.
Or, no, come, if you must be semantic-pedantic.
Why analyse all that you do? Beside us we hear the romantic Atlantic.
Are words all that matter to you?
(Keith Norman) Our Headmaster is a fat cat, Though he has a shoddy body.
For instance his hair looks like a soggy moggy.
His brain is a think-sink, His conversation clap-trap.
Though he lacks a ferret's merits He has its smell. Well, Actually, he has a rabbit's habits Sexually. A typical preacher-teacher, Chilblained, ordained; Something of a fish-shop bishop, Voice and hands permanently sky-high.
(Jermyn Thynne) I can't stay in Tonga longer, Clad in this myrtle kirtle; I must from the tortoise, porpoise, And the Giant Turtle hurtle.
I couldn't pick one more paw-paw Or peel and halve a guava; Instead of staying in Tonga longer