Competitions nos. 73A and 73B: results

A new judge (although she writes as if she’s done it many times, which makes me suspect her of having been a Saturday Review judge): Elizabeth Bibesco, who was Asquith’s daughter and a Princess by marriage to a Romanian prince. She sets – she had spent half a decade and more in Washington when her husband was Ambassador there – an American style of one-liner advert, giving as an example (for a laundry) ‘Don’t kill your wife; we do your dirty work.’ She wants this technique successively applied to an undertaker, a caravan-hiring establishment, a tea-garden, a beauty-parlour, a travel bureau and a man’s tailor.

But as she remarks, she hasn’t set a poem, but prose, and although ‘Everests of verse are continually climbed, a hillock of prose frequently defeats ascent, and nearly all the competitions that leave the track of literature evoke a sorry crop of truly deplorable entries’. She finds the entries to the A competition ‘facetious, elaborate and long-winded’, and aprt from a couple of pats on the back (‘Don’t worry – it’s our funeral’ – P.R. Laird), she offers no prizes.

On merrily then to the Himalayan prospects of poems, in this case, a national anthem for either a) a dictatorship or b) a socialist state, But, oh dear, ‘the entries hardly varied in demerit’. No sign of a Chesterton, a Belloc, a Tennyson, a Kipling, The Socialist anthems ‘read like a veiled attack on their own creed.’ And out of all the entries, with his dictator’s anthem, although he apparently came closest with the socialist anthem, too, is William Bliss. She has saved the WR three guineas, and disposed of only one: for this:

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