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There was quite a large and varied response to the request for verse on country life, broadly interpreted, from country music to courgettes, and a cast of frogs, bees, sheep, cows, swans, partridges, turkeys, foxes, coyotes and ominous Australian snakes. Martin Elster, in a rare positive mood for this competition, pondered and ambled round meadows and bogs, while Brian Allgar's  land girl did her bit and dug for victory in the 1939-45 war, as did the farmer's son.

With thanks to all who participated, below, in no particular order, are the survivors of the judge's scrutiny.

Elizabeth Horrocks: In the Country

I never liked the countryside.
If once I said so, I’d have lied.
A meeting with good country hay
will have me sneezing all the day.
Encountering good country mud
is enough to chill my blood.
I’ve never met a friendly cow:
I do not think I’ll meet one now.
And though I’ll grant some bits are pretty,
there’s far more comfort in the city

♣    ♣    ♣    ♣    ♣    ♣

Susan Jarvis Bryant: The Best Country Music Recipe Ever!


1 ramblin’ rose, a whimper of woes,
1 ex by the name of Lucille
1 cowboy who’s achin’ to kill.
3 cheatin’ hearts, 2 buxom tarts,
1 flirty Jolene, .
A pinch of green spleen
1 county coward, a kiss that has soured
4 kids and a crop in the field
2 souls that are raw, crushed and peeled
6 slugs of moonshine, a gunshot, pained whine,
A dog that lies dead in a ditch,
Essence of badass and bitch.


Ignite ring of fire; throw in the liar,
the harlots and liquor-soaked sot.
Stir in the rest and give it the best
sob-sodden warble you’ve got!

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D.A. Prince: Country Fare

The joys of country living?
How quickly one regrets
the palate-numbing boredom of
courgettes, courgettes, courgettes.

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Julia Griffin: Country Life

The countryside is overbuilt.
We've trashed the trees and spoil the silt;
The fields are fouled, the silos stink,
The climate's prospects daily sink
The countryside.

It's galloping downhill, full tilt;
No use to cry, the milk is spilt;
We are not on (so do not think)
The country's side.

It's wretched as a shredded quilt,
Or sassenach-infested kilt;
The brooks and streams aren't fit to drink;
The very sun is on the blink;
And all you offer me is guilt!
The country sighed.

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Ken Chester: Peer And Partridge

(With apologies to T. Hood.)

"It is said of the late Lord —, a man of
notoriously violent temper, that on
finding a scarcity of partridges in a field
wherein he had expected good sport, he
would in a fury throw himself on the
ground and gnaw the turnips – a story
that requires more than the usual grain
of salt to swallow and yet it is one that
is often repeated."

         - Badminton Library Vol 5,1886

The keepers' worried fingers move
From whiskers (mutton chops)
To tops of turnip watches as
They watch the turnip tops.

His Lordship, temper on the boil,
Has yet to fire a shot.
They fear, should no one spot a mark,
He may well mark the spot.

They must, to silence Rumour's tongue
And all that it imputes,
Find partridge-packed fresh routes to choose
Before he chews the roots.

Too late! It doesn’t now need salt
To swallow what’s been said,
So while the gazing guns head off
Some whisper, "Off his head!"

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Bruce McGuffin: Country Life

My block in the suburbs resembles a zoo.
Coyotes, deer, foxes, and wild turkeys too.
But here in the country wild animals hide.
I haven't seen any. I've searched far and wide,
And all that I've found are some tracks in the snow
Suggesting there's more than a squirrel or so.
In the 'burbs beasts believe they will never be harmed.
But their wild country cousins assume that I'm armed.

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Damian Balassone: River Hymn

Shall we gather by the stream
to hear the river hymn?
Snakes are basking on the rocks
where little children swim.

♣    ♣    ♣    ♣    ♣    ♣

Tracy Davidson: Country Strife

In "Escape to the Country", the air's always pure.
They seem never to mention the stench of manure,
Nor the wildlife that screeches half-way through your sleep,
or loud mooing and baaing of cattle and sheep,
That it takes half an hour to pop to the shops,
public transport is sparse, and cell coverage stops.
Peace and quiet is wearing, and hammers the head.
Can I opt for "Escape to the City" instead?

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Jo Scutch: Note For Novice Country-Dwellers

You may mention swan-upping
When dining or supping
But hosts will start frowning
At talk of swan-downing.

♣    ♣    ♣    ♣    ♣    ♣

Ed Conti: The Country Life

The country life!
The country life!
You can cut the silence
With a knife.

The country life!
The country life!
Peace at last.
No strain or strife.

The country life!
The country life!
Just you and birds
And no, no wife.

The country life!
I sing and shout.
What country
Is this all about?

 Gaillardias in bloom