The latest challenge called for an acrostic poem about a politician in which the first letter of each line spells the name of that politician.
While most of you set your sights on modern-day notables, David Silverman (as well as his poignant prizewinning haiku) submitted a nice double-dactylic portrait of Caesar Augustus. Here’s an extract:
Empowered the People and
Senate of Rome.
Raided North Africa;
Unless at home…
It was a creditable performance all round, but Ian Barker earns an honourable mention and the winners below take £20.
Joyless autumn day:
Falling like cherry blossom,
Killed from grassy knoll
Jacob, no one doubts you’re very grand —
A guide to style? Let’s ‘meet with’ words you’ve
Condemned as ‘unacceptable’ and dire:
Oikish ‘Mr’ — always use ‘Esquire’,
Before this, let me say ‘I’m pleased to learn’
Reports that claim you’ve ‘noted my concern’,
Especially as we’ve ‘got’ to ‘ascertain’
Each reference to Queen Victoria’s reign.
So could you help us to communicate?
My doubts are leading me to ‘speculate’
On Oxford commas, and imperial weight.
Guide us, listen to vox populi —
‘Going forward’? No. Time’s passed you by!
Wily old warhorse you made your name great
In leading your country to fight against Fate.
No other could match you in those darkest years;
Serenely you offered us blood, sweat and tears.
Though much, you asserted, was owed to so few
Our honour and freedom are owing to you.
Never again in our country’s lifespan
Can we be in debt for so much to one man.
Heroic in danger, you stayed calm and bold,
Unruffled by horrors; this message you sold:
‘Regardless of losses we’ll never give in,
Campaigning on beaches, at last we will win.’
Hell opened before us but still you stood tall
It seemed we were crushed, on the brink of a fall.
London was burning in that desperate hour.
Liberation you won for us. Such was your power.
Many have made a witch of her and yet
Abroad she was admired. If she said NO
God could not change her mind when it was set.
Guts and determination made her go
Into the fiercest fights with will to win;
Everyone knew her lips meant what they said.
This lady would not turn, her greatest sin,
Her biggest asset too. She always led
As if she knew her course with certainty.
Today we lack the spirit she displayed.
Can it be doubted her tenacity,
Her steel resolve would come to Britain’s aid?
Europe would find in her no mellow May
Resigned to deal our sovereignty away.
Once Mosley was promising, handsome and young,
Seductively rich, with an eloquent tongue,
Well-known as a swordsman with sabre and foil,
Although seldom playing according to Hoyle —
Lubricious, mendacious, a demon for power,
Determined to rule as the Man of the Hour.
Many thought him a leader in times of great stress;
Others smelled a slick chancer and wished him bad
Since he aimed to succeed as a friend of our foes,
Lord, protect us in future from any of those
Eccentrically English toffs gone to the bad.
You must know the type — ‘a wrong ’un and a cad’.
Raised a Quaker, now with Satan
In the deepest pit of Hell,
Crooked as a shyster lawyer,
Heavy on the paranoia,
Always bent and couldn’t straighten,
Richard rose and Richard fell.
Dirty pool? He wasn’t picky,
Not the famous Tricky Dicky.
In the end comes Watergate,
X-rated Oval Office tapes —
Oh, the irony of fate.
Nixon exits. Draw the drapes.
Jolly Jim, avuncular, sedate,
Acclaimed for singing ‘Waiting at the Church’,
Made much of Educational research,
Engendering the famous ‘Great Debate’;
Schooled at Portsmouth Grammar up he rose,
Climbed the greasy pole, then underwent
A chilling winter, rife with discontent,
Labelled as a failure by his foes;
Left to languish, still to power he gripped
Against the odds and never losing hope
Gallantly he did his best to cope,
Holding fast till down that pole he slipped;
A man who was, although in crisis cool,
No match against the Iron Lady’s rule.
Precocious, but no star, young Pitt MP
Inveighed at length against the trade in slaves;
Tried planning how clean politics might be;
Took up the aim of rooting out its knaves.
Though not yet twenty-five, by regal whim
He gained the highest office in the land:
Exchequer machinations suited him,
Yielding the funds he needed to command.
On making pacts, alliances and wars,
Uncertainty would sometimes shift his stance:
Napoleon, though, gave him a noble cause —
Guarding against the Emperor’s advance.
Exhausted, penniless, he died, unpraised,
Remembered for the Income Tax he raised.
Your next challenge is to submit an extract from a government memo whose language would meet with the approval of Jacob Rees-Mogg. Please email entries of up to 150 words to firstname.lastname@example.org by midday on 11 September.