Skip to Content

Coffee House Culture House Daily

Spectator competition winners: macaronic poetry

16 January 2016

9:30 AM

16 January 2016

9:30 AM

The latest challenge was to compose up to 16 lines of macaronic verse. A dictionary of poetic terms will tell you that macaronic is a verse form popularised by Teofilo Folengo, a Mantuan monk, which uses a mixture of languages, normally with a comic or satirical intent. I prefer E.O. Parrott’s elegant definition: ‘a school of poetry which originated in the polyglot eating houses of Trieste’.

French was the most popular second language; Latin and German followed closely behind. Polish, Greek, Russian and Swahili also made fleeting appearances (hallelujah for Google Translate).

It was a smallish field but there was much to admire. Frederick Robinson, Jerome Betts, Frank Upton, Frank McDonald and Bill Greenwell all deserve a round of applause and Alan Millard bags the extra fiver. His fellow winners are rewarded with £25 apiece

Alan Millard
My dearest, dolce, darling one,
Do not be lacrimoso,
My song, con brio, like the sun,
I sing affettuoso.
Pesante though your heart might be
I beg, semplice, hark to me
And, molto presto, you shall see
I love you amoroso.

With ravvivando pace, my heart
Is beating furioso,
With slancio I sing my part,
To please I’m risoluto,
Maestoso is my serenade,
Alone and, a cappella, played,
Such love, morendo, must not fade
But grow accelerando!

Penelope Mackie
What’s the cereal that ticks
All the boxes? Weetabix!
Any breakfaster who’s picky
Palmam donat Weetae bici.
Cornflakes, porridge: who would eat ’em
Ante dulcem bicem Weetam?
Every golden wholegrain brick is
Mihi gratum Weetae bicis.

Wholesome, tasty: multiplices
Weetae sunt virtute bices —
Vere carmen est cantandum
Weetas bices ad probandum!
Mornings are a joy for us
Fructis Weetis bicibus;
Thank you, deus benefice,
Pro hac bona Weeta bice!

 

Basil Ransome-Davies
Internet dating? Pensez twice.
One faux pas, you’re in the scheiss.
Mondo Cyber’s beaucoup dodgy.
Prenez vos précautions oggi.

Tell a freund the rendezvous.
Portez ein alarm mit you.
Fuyez hombres whose fantasia
Is taking off your unterwäsche.

Dites au James Bond wannabe
Poseurs fill you with ennui.
Frappe sur his repulsive hooter
Le con who takes you for a puta.

You dites nein you no say oui.
You trop gut for n’importe qui.
Be the trou in quelque Polo.
Dormez immer solo, solo.

Martin Parker
I’m off en vacance to Biarritz
once mon maillot de bain really fits.
So, wrinkled and sagly, me voici at Ragley
attempting to trim a few bits
in the hopes of improving l’image
d’une flabby old bird de mon âge.
Et après, have no doubt, I shall put it about
dans les bars, la piscine et la plage;
where hourly, I hope, en plein air
comme une horizontale I will faire
l’amour with each man from Calais to Cannes
n’importe who, n’importe how, n’importe where.
So, adieu à ma vie virginale.
Its loss me sera bien égale.
If le Coq Sportif peut, then it’s ‘Allez les Bleus!’
Grace à Dieu for l’Entente Cordiale!

Alanna Blake
Arriverderci neiges d’antan,
Kwaheri Auld Lang Syne!
Here’s Guid New Annus en avant,
Hola! Bring on glühwein.

Mon dieu! El Niño’s on the way
With maji mingi flood,
Echt Stürm und Drang greet this année
Con stradas deep in mud.

Achtung! The cochons’ flights begin,
La luna’s turning blue.
Cojones! Zuppa’s what we’re in
And dies irae too.

W.J. Webster
Senex erat plus riche que beau
Qui wooed une fille bellissima:
Con fur above e furbelow
He plied la poverissima.

‘Eheu!’ she sighed. ‘Hélas, alack!
One dies may un vrai prince come
Qui peut me save from hoc sad sac,
Then baise me till mes lèvres sont numb!’

Poi da un’ altra stanza came
Un cri étrange: ‘Possum! Vengo!
Je crois already que je t’aime —
I’ll make le bouffon stop then go!’

Tout fait accompli, dixit sic:
‘Non sono prince, ni riche, ni beau,
Mais, comme tu vois, un total freak.
La vie peut être une chienne…, I know.’

Your next challenge is to submit a jacket blurb for a misery memoir (150 words maximum). Please email entries, wherever possible, to lucy@spectator.co.uk by midday on 27 January.


Show comments

Comments

Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.

Close