Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Ding dong swan song sung

For the past few weeks I've been a recipient of issues of The Spectator, which has an especially good writing competition in each issue. The challenges vary, sometimes requiring poetry and sometimes prose. I've even ventured to offer one or two poems for the competition, but so far I've been pipped by the regulars - in particular one old bloke called Basil Ransom-Davies gets my goat.

The poetry in the latest competition (by latest, I mean dating to the 8 December edition - delivery has been rather tardy of late) happens to be about ash dieback, a fungal disease affecting the growths of ash trees in England. The results have been... well, let me just show you:

The winner kicks things off with a dignified lament in iambic pentameter:
Too large for our imaginings, those bare
And hollowed landscapes where the ash once stood...

But things become a little strange with the second published entry, to me sounding like a sombre, slightly maudlin Anglican service -
Let us have faith that nature will sustain
Their spirit until ash trees live again. 
The third is queerer still, a bizarre lament - 'vintage Stratocaster', whatever that is, rhymes with 'disaster', and 'pliant wood' with the clunkish 'fungal blight where hardy trees have stood'. And the conclusion! Oh for the love of....
The willow tree has not yet taken sick 
So playing for the Ashes can go on.

Well that's all right then. And, after that, come the imitation Betjemans and try-hard Thomas Hardys, with 'swan song' rhyming with 'song sung', or should that be 'sing song' or maybe 'ning nong' or quite possibly 'ping pong'. I do like
We watched the helicopters whirling
In those summer yesteryears,
And heard the leaves uncurling, furling,
Turning into tiny spears....
But really, all of it is summed up with the trite joke in the last poem
I grieve, and yet my spirits rise - 
My elegy may wine a prize.
I think I've never seen an ash
As lovely as a wad of cash.
Crikey. I hope the Speccy poetry comp. never tries a serious subject again...


Caz said...

So, it was about cricket, right?

Nothing wrong with that, in its place: the back of the sports pages.

Seriously - The Spectator is having a bit of a lend, yes?

Caz said...

I notice the next competition has a limit of 16 lines.

This somewhat compensates for the endless, endless, endless, endless fooking ashes/cricket poem.

TimT said...

Maybe I'm just bitter and twisted Caz, because none of my entries have ever won a prize!

Caz said...

You might be bitter, and you might be twisted, but that's still an utterly crap poem.

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