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Spectator triolet competition winners: ‘Penelope Cruz has told me no’

21 February 2016

9:30 AM

21 February 2016

9:30 AM

Your latest challenge was to compose a Valentine’s triolet. A famous example of the triolet is Frances Cornford’s catty ‘To a Fat Lady seen from the Train’ (‘O fat white woman whom nobody loves/ Why do you walk through the field in gloves’), but it was that ace trioleteer Wendy Cope’s rather more charming ‘Valentine’ that prompted me to invite you to take on this medieval form.

It was a varied, funny and accomplished entry: you rose admirably to the challenge of breathing life into your triolets, despite the formal straitjacket.

The winners below take £15 each.

Rosemary Kirk
You weren’t the one I would have picked
if it had been just down to me.
My friend insisted, so I ticked.
You weren’t the one I would have picked
but when we met we somehow clicked.
Dear Valentine, how could it be
you weren’t the one I would have picked
if it had been just down to me?

John Whitworth
You’re much fairer than the fairest of the
      choristers of Kings;
When you move you move like Aphrodite
      slipping through the waves.
You’re far softer than the feathers on a cherub’s
      whirring wings,
You’re much fairer than the fairest of the
      choristers of Kings,
And your quintessential quantum of the
      thinginess of things
Makes the shadows of the dead rise up delighted
      from their graves.
You’re much fairer than the fairest of the
      choristers of Kings;
When you move, you move like Aphrodite
      slipping through the waves.


Ann Drysdale
I’ll write a card because I always do
But you won’t get to see it, being dead.
I know you liked the ones I wrote for you.
I’ll write a card because I always do
And since there’s no one else to send it to
I’ll keep it with the three you never read.
I’ll write a card because I always do
But you won’t get to see it, being dead.

Sylvia Fairley
My love, let’s swing from the chandelier
while sharing our zimmer frames;
you’ve a taste for vintage wine? — I’m here
my love — let’s swing from the chandelier!
The flame has dimmed, but we’ll persevere
and indulge in erotic games…
My love! Let’s swing from the chandelier
while sharing our zimmer frames.

Rob Stuart
I don’t approve of Valentine’s —
It’s just an advertising ploy
To flog more greetings card designs.
I don’t approve of Valentine’s,
Or love itself, which undermines
Your self-control and saps your joy.
I don’t approve of Valentine’s —
It’s just an advertising ploy.

Alison Zucker
Our love was like a red, red rose
Before becoming brown and stale
And foul to both the eye and nose.
Our love was like a red, red rose,
But then began to decompose.
It is, alas, a common tale:
Our love was like a red, red rose
Before becoming brown and stale.

Bill Greenwell
When all my greens begin to bloom —
Is that the time to bed my dear,
To take her to the upstairs room
(When all my greens begin to bloom,
As they will never in the tomb)?
It might be far too late, I fear,
When all my greens begin to bloom —
Is that the time? To bed, my dear!

Max Gutmann
One cannot come right out and state
What valentines all truly seek.
The way one hopes to end a date
One cannot come right out and state.
In romance, bluntness doesn’t rate;
The word ‘romantic’ means ‘oblique’.
One cannot come right out and state
What valentines all truly seek.

Robert Schechter
Penelope Cruz has told me no.
She will not kiss or date me.
I won’t give up on love although
Penelope Cruz has told me no.
I never thought I’d sink so low,
But would you osculate me?
Penelope Cruz has told me no.
She will not kiss or date me.

D.A. Prince
I never cared too much for Valentines:
that Cards ’n’ Roses stuff is all for show.
What’s that to do with love? One of the signs
I never cared too much for Valentines
was finding someone else to share fine wines,
long evenings in, with books and radio.
I never cared too much for Valentines.
That Cards ’n’ Roses stuff is all for show.

Jayne Osborn
Let’s run away to Gretna Green,
no matter what. They say,
‘You’re too old. This affair’s obscene.’
Let’s run away to Gretna Green.
Our children think we should have been
content in our own way.
Let’s run away to Gretna Green
no matter what they say.

To mark the tercentenary of Thomas Gray’s birth, you are invited to submit an ‘Elegy on a Country Churchyard’ in the metre of his famous poem. Please email entries of up to 16 lines to lucy@spectator.co.uk by midday on 2 March.


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