20 MAY 1995, Page 58


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Bouts limes


IN COMPETITION NO. 1881 you were invited to write a poem with given rhyme endings in a certain order.

I greatly enjoy the postscripts some of you attach to your entries. Here are three examples from this week: 'This uncharac- teristically gruesome subject emerged because I was en route for Tower Hill underground when writing it'; 'The follow- ing poem does not reflect my usual view of songbirds, just my current view while con- valescing from an accident while trying to dissuade a blue tit from nesting in my loft'; `Sorry not to have been able to participate much lately. There is nothing more appalling than having to move office, par- ticularly from a listed old building into a modern excrescence fitted with air- conditioning'.

No, the rhyme scheme was not, as one of you guessed, from 'some high-Victorian tosh', but from Robert Lowell's Imitations (Baudelaire's Chant d'automne). The prize- winners, printed below, get £25 each, and the bonus bottle of Isle of Jura Single Malt

Scotch whisky goes to Nicholas Hodgson.

The nuptial hour draws closer on the clock, While rude mechanicals devise their sport, And old Egeus, in a state of shock, Begs Hermia's death or marriage, at the court. Meanwhile, within the fairy citadel Titania, as stubborn as a rock, Drives Oberon to make her life a hell. Puck's potion gives the lovers memory block And for each other's partners the pair fall. Titania too's enraptured by the sound Of ass-head Bottom on her flower-strewn ground.

To end, a play, with Lion, Moon and Wall, Precedes three weddings (but no funeral). The fairies, as day breaks, trip hurriedly While mortals, weary, to their beds all crawl, And only Puck is left to say goodbye.

(Nicholas Hodgson) Right on the hour the cuckoo left the clock. Seeing my face, he cried, 'Don't worry, sport! Perhaps it's time you had some sort of shock And now the ball is firmly in your court. Step up, inspect my cosy citadel' (He sneered) 'where like Prometheus on his rock I suffer unimaginable hell - It's just the thing to cure a writer's block. Mornings for ever rise and evenings fall, And each half-hour of them one's forced to sound This mad dissyllable — I'll go to ground While you, sir, shall be driven up the wall, To iterate Time's graded funeral.

All yours!' he said, and hopped off hurriedly. I grasped the pendulum, began to crawl ... 'Cuckoo!' he mocked. 'Cuckoo! cuckoo! - goodbye!' (Mary Holtby) Your parasol? Yes. And the travelling clock. The ball for your little dog's sport?

If you must. (But, dear Lizzie — don't register shock - The hatstand is quite out of court.) You've languished too long in this grimcitadel- Andromeda chained to the rock - While Papa sits refining his version of hell Like a headsman caressing the block.

So creep down the staircase — take care not to fall - Through the darkness with never a sound - The hall — now the doorway — we've reached open ground - And out through the gate in the wall!

Now, coachman! This isn't a funeral!

Make haste! Whizz! Progress hurriedly Like a shot cannonball, not a lacklustre crawl, As we wave Moulton Barrett goodbye!

(Michael Lee) He thought he heard a chariot inside his bedroom clock, He thought he loved his women, but he toyed with them for sport, He thought his outlook radical, but merely sought to shock, He thought he fought for justice when he bent the rules in court, He thought the Tower of London was a Brussels citadel, He *ought the sand he'd built on was but granulated rock, He thought the path to Heaven was a road marked 'Living Hell', He thought his pillow comfy though an execution block, He thought his stock improving as his worth began to fall, He thought he loved good music, but he merely craved its sound, He thought his life was principled, but never stood his ground, He thought of bridges made with words, then built a dungeon wall, He thought his life the birth of hope and not its funeral, He thought he'd hire a guru, said his mantras hurriedly, He thought he'd stand firm-backed and tall, but found it best to crawl, He thought he said 'hello', but others heard it as 'goodbye'. (Tim Hopkins)

No. 1884: How to

There have always been books which offer to tell you how to achieve poise, self- confidence, social mastery etc. You are invited to provide an extract from an awful example of the genre. Maximum 150 words. Entries to `Cpmpetition No. 1884' by 1 June.