IN COMPETITION NO. 1835 you were invited to write a poem for children begin- ning 'I wish I were a(n) . .
Chesterton's triolet went: I wish I were a jellyfish That cannot fall downstairs: Of all the things I wish to wish I wish I were a jellyfish That hasn't any cares, And doesn't even have to wish, `I wish I were a jellyfish That cannot fall downstairs.'
My seven-year-old son, Edward, who helped me judge this competition, thought
that all the prizewinners were quite as good as GKC. Printed below, they receive £20 each, and the bonus bottle of Drummond's Pure Malt Scotch whisky goes, with Ed- ward's approval (of the winner, not the whisky), to Mike Morrison.
I wish I were a telescope like those from days of yore, of burnished brass or gunmetal and two feet long or more.
Pd scan the seas for galleons, giant icebergs, killer whales, and spy the wild, fantastic beasts of old seafarers' tales,
discover undiscovered lands with my all-seeing eye, and truly serve my Captain, be he Nelson, Kidd or Bligh.
I wish I were a telescope it makes me rather sad
that I must be content to be an ordinary lad. (Mike Morrison) I wish I were an elephant With no one half my size, So people trying to pick on me Would get a fat surprise.
They'd only call me Big Ears once And never pinch my skin Because they'd know that if they did They'd end up flat and thin.
If anybody drove me mad I wouldn't stamp or shout, I'd rest my trunk against their ear And blow their daylights out.
But if they were all right with me And fed me sticky buns, I wouldn't give them little treats, I'd give them jumbo ones. (W.J. Webster) I wish I were a wriggly worm That lived beneath the soil. Above me, as I'd dig and squirm, I'd leave a muddy coil, And never do it on the beds, But only on the lawn, To hear the gardeners scratch their heads And wish I'd not been born.
No mother worm would ever say, `Wherever have you been?'
For worms, despite the mud and clay, Are always smooth and clean.
And if a spade should cut me through I'd still be far from done, For then I'd not be one, but two, And we'd have twice the fun.
I wish I were a trampoline: Noel Petty) I'd make my brothers jump, And if they were not very keen, I'd give them both a bump.
I'd hog the middle of the floor When they were too aloof, And every time they yelled for more, I'd make them hit the roof.
I'd always have them in mid-air As if they both had wings, And if they said they did not care I'd give them double springs.
A sister is not just for show, And they would learn who counts If I could teach them where to go With just a little bounce. (Bill Greenwell) I wish I were a dinosaur, Parading in the park: I'd be a pleasure in the day, A terror after dark.
I'd let the tourists stroke my nose And give me buns to scoff, Then in the night I'd roam the streets And bite the chimneys off.
I wish I were an octopus Of enterprise and skill, With eight elasticated arms To work my wicked will.
What havoc in the apple-trees!
What bedlam in the bars!
What lazy stretchings in the shop, Unscrewing sweetie-jars! (Mary Holtby)