Only one competition this week, but only because Sylvia Lynd’s extra winner has had to be held over. Gerald Bullett sets a really difficult competition (so difficult in fact, that I would quite enjoy having a go at it – there you are, an insight into the mind of a fanatical competitor). Suppose, suggests Bullett, that Swinburne and William Morris, over a bottle of wine, decide to elevate the status of ‘Jack and Jill’ to that of an Arthurian legend (yes, can see that happening), and do so using iambics – couplets, terza rima or blank verse – each in his characteristic manner, and in 8-12 lines each, at which point they abandon them and pass them to Tennyson for a mélange of both with a dash of his own style in 12 lines. The prizes are upped to two guineas, one guinea and half-a-guinea.
Phew. But then the readers were all still Swinburne fans, it seems to me. We would probably be asked to mix up (say) Plath and Hughes, and have it all re-written by Heaney. Or something similar. And we’d also have an extra week to do it.
Bullett says his judging is helped by the fact that most of the glazed eyes skated over ‘iambics’; Seacape and Lester Ralph come close; Tennyson is thought the easiest of the three; and the winner, by a whisker, is Yury, followed by Obispo, and George van Raalte (who is a bit dependent on the originals, and has made what I think is a tactical blunder in footnoting one poem).