Competitions nos 176A and 176B: results

In the first explicit reference to armament, Philip Jordan asks for a ballade to be in the voice of an armament manufacturer, the refrain to be ‘Why should I worry? Death will always pay!’

The ballade (beloved of Chesterton) is a real favourite of the early competitions, and would continue to be revered as a comic form until the fifties, at least (I don’t think one has been set in the last 40 or 50 years, not least because it is quite a long form. The refrain here is perhaps (perhaps? definitely!) something of a sledgehammer. Wryly, Jordan notes that he is surprised some of the envelopes did not combust in the post, because so many contained poems of ‘corroding venom’. Unfortunately, he adds (since he would like to have included some venom), innumerable poems bore little resemblance to the ballade form, so his winners are milder. They are W. Leslie Nicholls, Dermot Spence, and (as another B competition has done poorly), Arthur Oliver.

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For the B competition, a short poem on the (just-concluded, albeit inconclusively) economic conference is requested. There are several entries, many of which write about having a drink now it’s all over, but Jordan is only disposed to give out a single prize, to J.N. Wales. I think this must be John Nicholson Wales, who worked at Dartington for Leonard Elmhirst, and who had been given the task of producing a daily ‘news of the day’ in 1928. He may also be the J.N.Wales who, rather later, contributes to books about economics:

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