For the latest literary challenge you were invited to submit a Shakespearean soliloquy delivered by one of the contenders for the Tory leadership in which they consider their pitch for the top job.
During the 2016 leadership contest, Shakespearean references were flying round. Alex Salmond likened Michael Gove to ‘Lord Macbeth’, and when Boris Johnson announced his withdrawal from the scrum he paraphrased the words of Brutus, saying that now was ‘a time not to fight against the tide of history but to take that tide at the flood and sail on to fortune’.
This time round, Boris has — so far, at least — been publicly reticent and most of you chose to plug that gap. There was a sprinkling of his fellow hopefuls (though no Hunts, Javids or Stewarts), all of whom are now out of the running. They get one final hearing below.
A round of applause for the winners, who take £20 each. And commiserations to the unlucky losers.
Mike Morrison/Boris Johnson
Away with hustings, pish to protocol!
I am the one convincing candidate
To lead our nation through these troublous times.
My rivals — ill-starr’d, ineffectual oafs,
Crass corner-boys, dim double-breasted spivs,
Main-chance manipulators, cheap qui-vivers.
Am I not ev’ry inch the true blue Tory
Born to the drapes and traps of privilege
(Oh, I am out! — I mean ‘of governance’);
Well-bred and witty, worldly-wise and winsome,
Eminently suitable for office?
My drear detractors need no longer sigh
‘Alas, poor has-been controversial clown,
Blond-bumbling polyglot philanderer’ —
The hour is come: Now, Gods, stand up for Boris!’
Basil Ransome-Davies/Michael Gove
’Tis now the very pitching time of night.
Now must I fashion discourse that will sway
The media to digest th’incredible.
Now could I snort a line for comfort’s sake,
But that mine honesty has served me ill,
The truth a weapon for mendacious foes.
Fie on it! Oh fie! When candour’s turn’d
By envious caitiffs to fell purposes,
Nature herself is outraged, and the vile
(I name not Boris) grow unseemly grand,
While I am slighted for an ancient sin.
Once holder of great offices of state,
I now must coax and pander to my peers,
Then to the pond life, for my due reward.
’Tis well my view is long. I do not sigh
That May is past; my thoughts run to July.
David Silverman/Andrea Leadsom
Three truths prophetic here this day are told
As happy prologues to my firm intent:
‘The second female Thane — but not the last!’
Then thus: ‘Ne’er cast a clout till May be out.’
She thrice presented them a perfect plan,
Which they did thrice refuse: was this ambition?
I’d do it, pat, with deal or yet sans deal:
T’were well it were done quickly: there’s the rub.
Then thus: ‘None born who has ne’er child from
Brought forth, shall ever Leadsom overcome’.
Leadsome indeed must I, with heavy mettle,
Now plumb the depth of poisonous resolve.
McVey has never bairn brought to this world
And childless, Mordaunt cannot Leadsom bite:
These both I smile at, others laugh to scorn,
Who, wombless, never progeny have borne.
Bill Greenwell/Boris Johnson
My bosom-pals, with pleasure here I stand,
Slave to your amity, servant to such lusts
As fill the newt or asker, flood the whale
With quivering minnows. E’en the wolf subscribes;
Yet am I not more constant? See, my shade
Hath long patroll’d these pastures, seeking souls
That I might turn their spirits into mine.
I am unburthened, sirs — to air, the heir,
To cozeners, the coz, and, sede vacante,
What might I not accomplish with your voice?
I am not sharp, possess no point but this:
What’s out is out. The stentor’s voice must drown
Both humble sprat and porpoise. Give me
I’ll birth your song, for I am pro placenta,
Pro edere. Fill me, come, dear friends:
With thine afflatus, ’tis up with this balloon.
D.A. Prince/Matt Hancock
Now might you do it, Matt, now they’re all flaying
each other’s hides. A fresh start, fresher face,
will do the deed to make you the PM.
‘Chap with the App’ — I’ll run with that, and
of mockery’s mountain a high pinnacle
from which to reign and rain down my revenge.
Brexit has done for order; we’re displaced,
our future wayward as a field of wheat
blundered and trampled in the flush of May.
Our circumstance is in the round, a globe
of over-Gove-ing Gove, of being not
the tousled one. They’ve too much form
I, by Fortune’s grace, am not so marked by sin.
If we are hell-bent, then I wish to lead
these jackanapes who’d have our country bleed.
Brian Murdoch/Boris Johnson
May-time is over, and the hunt is up
To lead. Some are not equal to the task,
And, though all know I love the fairer sex,
Enough is now enough, for I and I
Alone can bring a happy unity.
I’ll give the Bloody Band of Ulster all
They want, and scorn that grizzled dotard still
In thrall to Muscovy. I’ll make no gaffe,
But gaff the sturgeon, then placate the Welsh.
A few will mew and pull a moggy face,
But I shall wield the weapon of surprise
When I declare: In Europe we’ll remain!
(Besides, I never fully did decide.)
Thus shall my rise to glory come to be.
Martin Parker/Mark Harper
Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow
Creeps on this Brexit farce from day to day.
The hour for deeds has come. The man as well —
(though other sexes be available)
For I am he to heal our Brussels Pox.
All other candidates may say the same
Though tarred and feathered in collective failure,
Exhausted by their own incompetence,
Consumed by blockheads’ internecine strife.
And thus they gift to me my USP.
For I am he of whom but few have heard;
My face no sour cartoonist’s daily bread,
Nor indiscretions lit by red-tops’ glare.
My new-blood die is cast. The game’s afoot.
Cry, God for Brexit, Harper and Saint George;
And flights of Tories hymn me into Number Ten.
Your next challenge is to submit a poem with an ingenious twist at the end. Please email entries of up to 16 lines to firstname.lastname@example.org by midday on 3 July.