W. R. Hughes (aka Little Billee) returns. It’s well known, he says, that Thomas Gray polished and rejected a number of quatrains for his ‘Elegy’ [In A Country Churchyard]. Entrants have to come up with a quatrain that is not only in the style of Gray, but say where in the Elegy it will be interposed. Not easy. You can read Gray’s Elegy here.
Reading the entries makes Hughes realise how good Gray is. Many of the regulars, says Hughes, cannot mange the scholarly reflection or the original turn of phrase in each oine – even the best WR rhymers. He uses Alice Herbert and Muriel Malvern as examples of two who wrote original poems, but not in the style of Gray. Guy Hadley is congratulated for reaching three lines out of the four; Chauve-Souris. Hilary and Evan John are commended, but repated reading (it’s clear Hughes took this very seriously indeed) leads him to give the prizes to George Van Raalte and Prudence. The verse is presented with the originals on either side (you get a sense that when competitors are judges, they are far more tense and formal about the process):
Not many takers, and only one B prize handed out. The winner (Enid M. Norman) has the air of a pseudonym or even an anagram about it, so I guess it’s neither! (No second prize.)