Competition 5


. . .  proved that if you scratch an English-speaker a Sonnet will be found just under the surface skin.  Several of you scratched hard in imaginative places, some proposing that, as an immortal figure, Shakespeare’s fancy  might not be limited to the period of his own lifetime. But I wonder if anyone has ever told Cleo Laine that her wonderful recording of his poetry, Wordsongs,  “still hath charms to soothe” an unexpected breast. Large tubes of soothing balm go to all those whose itching secrets are revealed below and honourable mentions go to Vesuvia and to Phyllis Reinhard..

My time on earth grows short; my days are numbered,
And then, ah then, who knows what lies ahead,
When I'll no longer fret and be encumbered
With secrets large and deep−for I'll be dead.
And so, methinks, Dark Lady, it is time
That I reveal thy name to ages hence,
And speak of how thou made my world sublime,
Thy favour my delight, my providence.
I've writ of how black wires adorned thy head,
And how thy brows were of a raven black.
O would that once again, upon my bed,
I'd view thy sableness. I crave thee back!
No sweeter creature ever was begat
Than thee, Felina, my most cherished cat!

Mae Scanlan

Shall I compare thee to my other half? –
thou art more curvy, and more passionate,
and hath a way always to make me laugh;
your summer, unlike hers, of youthful date.
Sometime so clear Apollo’s whisper sounds,
but oft-times is his inspiration blurred;
my dear co-author, how your brain abounds
with plot and character, with line and word.
Our sweetest times with parchment spent and quill;
your hair, as dark as ink, scrawls on my heart,
provoking strange excitement of the will,
and creativity in every part.
Oh, leave me not to Time’s fell hand forsaken,
but stay to egg me on, sweet Frances Bacon.

Lynn Roberts

To the Dark Lady of Wavendon

That thou and I shall never intertwine
I deem a hapless accident of birth.
Yet, were I not to pen each phrase, each line,
For thee to sing, then dank would be my worth.
Would that it were within my paltry power
To nudge the slothful clock four hundred years
That I may feel, hour on enraptur’d hour,
Thy velvet voice caress my willing ears,
Singing my words as never sung before,
Entwined with music strange and sweet and new,
That hearkening I marvel, and adore
My lady, dark of voice as dark of hue.
A blessèd consummation, to impart
Such fascinating rhythm to my heart.

Joan Butler

Dear Nellie, sweet Dark Lady of my verse
And serving wench at Ye Old Bag of Nails,
Your hands tease out the contents of my purse
Each night among the casks of wine and ales.
Then from your eager, moist red lips I sup
As in the writhing of love’s tangled grammar
I parse the sweetness of your dark fruit cup
And conjugate with my tequila slammer.
Thus do I serve love’s sentence every day,
Delighting in each phrase that this entails.
Dark Mistress, as you dip my quill I say
You serve to make the best of all cock tales.
   Dear Nellie, though we two may not be wed
  ’tis you who nightly strokes my throbbing head.

Imran T Parrek

Henry Wriothesley, 3rd Earl of Southampton

My Lord, your face by Nature’s own hand painted;
How freely I admit, it turns me on.
Though, when with you I first became acquainted,
Why, touch for touch, I noticed almost none
Bar eyebrows raised; but one day I’ll remind you,
That I have seen a subtly winking eye,
And Henry, when I’m lying close behind you -
Fired furnace never heaved a seemlier sigh.
My fierce lust will I curb; you must believe me,
For thy eternal summer will not fade.
My generous benefactor don’t deceive me,
I shall be always waiting in your shade.
You are my dearest love, my summer’s day,
Let’s use each other, lover, and be gay.

Rosa Johnson

 I cannot call thee fair, but fair thou art
In spirit. Tresses dark, now tinged with grey,
Once stirred the deepest corners of my heart.
My love's matured, until I find today
I'm barely warmed by gentle embers' glow.
The memory of how you'd hold my hand
As I gazed at your face from down below
Has made me wonder on the life we planned.
You told me how you'd dream I'd be a man
Of medicine, or learned in the law,
But though I laboured hard when I began
I found such study choked me in the craw
And now I spend my working time on play
With words, dear Mother, every night and day.

Tony Cloke

COMPETITION NO 6: New Laureate

“The Sisterhood will think it good
that their Ms. Duffy got it.
And all of those, one can suppose,
are glad a man’s now not it.”
You are invited to write a woman’s-eye ode to commemorate any Royal Event, past or future, from a full-blown Coronation to a minor Laddering Of The Royal Tights.  (Maximum 16 lines)