Competition 19 sees Humbert Wolfe back in the judge’s chair, citing Edward Fitzgerald’s suggestion that the nightingale cries ‘Wine, wine, wine’ to incarnadine the yellow cheek of the rose, and wanting poems (up to 20 lines) to illlustrate the process. (“And David’s Lips are lock’t; but in divine/ High piping Pehlevi, with “Wine! Wine! Wine!/ “Red Wine!” — the Nightingale cries to the Rose/That yellow Cheek of hers to incarnadine” – The Rubaiyat.)
This the second week running for grudging judging. Wolfe thinks the standard is low, and splits the prize money between a newbie, B. Kenneth Wesander, and H.C.M. – described as the best of a choice between fair and fair-to-middling. B. Kenneth Wesander must be the twenty-year-old Bjorn Kenneth Wesander of Hampstead, the son of a Finnish father and an Aberdonian mother. Rather confusingly, Wolfe also suggests a prize for third entrant, P.D. Foster. Here is Wesander’s poem:
Wesander is commended for having used good eighteenth century models. H.C.M. is commended for a modest verse that has sense and feeling. Here is his:
19B is an altogether different matter. To understand it, you have to have an idea of a string of facetious correspondence that had been taking place in The Week-end Review. On July 27, after a new contributor, Gerald Heard, was added to the WR roster, Gerald Bullet wrote a joky letter to his editor, which was duly published:
Rather as in the modern Guardian, this provoked a little flurry of responses. First we have T. Earle Welby:
Elsie W.S. Bourne of Purley, describing herself as a prizeless crossword entrant sends in a poem asking about ‘something amissing’ … ‘A miss is the something/ O where is the fair Geraldine?’ There are two more poems printed, one an acrostic (signed ‘A Lady’); and there is an outbreak of more collective nouns from the earlier lot following Squire’s comp (‘a Review of Geralds’, ‘a superfluity of Geralds’, ‘an eruditeness of Geralds’). Barry adds a note that he has had twenty Gerald poems, and there is a laconic note that ‘Many letters were held over’. Wolfe’s competition asking for an essay on the prevalence of Geralds, which is what 19B asks for, is just playing the game.
But in his (far too facetious) report Humbert Wolfe is forced to admit that competitors ‘rambled, piped, lectured, yawned’. Once again, there are no prizes, not even dishonourable mentions. Wolfe doesn’t blame himself; he blames the weather, or ‘Don Quixote Bradman’, or ‘the earthquake’. Bradman, on his first cricket tour to England, had scored a century in the first Test, which England had won, but had just levelled the series with 254 in the second Test, an innings he himself rated his best. The earthquake must be the Irpinia earthquake in Italy, at 6.6 on the Richter scale, and the cause of the loss of over a thousand lives (known as the ‘Vulture’ earthquake – fifty years later there was another Irpinia earthquake).