2 November 2013

9:00 AM

2 November 2013

9:00 AM

In Competition 2821 you were invited to supply a poem that provides instruction or useful information.

This challenge was, of course, a nod to Virgil, whose Georgics, a didactic poem spanning four books, is part agricultural manual, part political poem. Although it was published way back in 29 bc or thereabouts, its lessons can still be applied today: a team of Italian archaeologists recently planted a vineyard in Sicily using Virgilian techniques.

Although Virgil was the inspiration, the brief did not specify that entries be written in dactylic hexameter (Bill Greenwell’s was: impressive); neither were you committed to a theme of agriculture and country life.

The winners pocket £25 each. Brian Murdoch takes the bonus fiver.

Before all else, the subtle contact make
That sets the engine’s circuits all aflame
With current, till you see before your eyes
A many-hued iconostasis. Grasp
The mouse-like implement, that you may move
The arrow’d cursor, till it rests upon
The sole vocable: MAIL. And then depress
The segment sinistral of that small tool.
Next shall you aim your dart again at NEW,
And garner thus a virgin scroll, on which
The message to inscribe; and for your use,
A crafty keyboard sits below. Ensure
That small partition’d slot clear-signalled TO
Is filled just with the true recipient.
So, too, you must the subject summarise,
Then with your mouse-led spear left-click on SEND…
Brian Murdoch
A basic grasp of hydroponics
Will grow you weed as green as onyx,
For given nutrients, water, air,
A plant will flourish anywhere.
The simplest system’s Ebb & Flow;
A few quick tips and off you go.
First, range plants in a growing tray
With growing medium — Rockwool, say —
Then via a pump and timer feed
The living shoots with what they need,
The nitrogen, magnesium, zinc
And other stuff that seedlings drink.
But hey — you have to love them, too.
See, plants have souls like me and you.
You listen, you can hear them praying,
And like, you know — what was I saying?
Basil Ransome-Davies
The hamlet of Bladderslop (twinned with Bordeaux)
Bids visitors heed the instructions below:
Scrumping’s forbidden. If caught, doing wrong,
Expect to be stung by the point of a prong.
When trekking through fields, with a push or a pull,
Secure all the gates or beware of the bull.
Ramblers remember, on countryside land,
All banners befriending the badger are banned.
Enjoy ‘rights of way’ over pasture and bog,
There’s nothing to fear but the bite of a dog.
Be wary of choosing The Crown for your lunch,
The locals can be a belligerent bunch.
Keep terriers tethered, if seen on the run
They rarely, if ever, escape from the gun
But don’t be dissuaded. Come, visit our farms!
We welcome outsiders with wide-open arms.
Alan Millard
When setting up a three pin plug
Make sure that every wire
Is in the right connector
Or the outcome could be dire,
Neutral (blue) is to the left,
Live (brown) is to the right,
And earth is at the bottom.
Make sure they’re screwed up tight,
Or wires could come loose, and touch
And start to fizz or spark,
And if your lamp is wired this way
You could be in the dark.
Make sure the wires are held in by
The grommet, if not lost,
Put the cover on, plug in,
Stand back, with fingers crossed.
Katie Mallett
Macaroni and cheese: it is, if you please,
The manna of heaven they write of;
A wonderful blend that will blissfully send
You to heights that you thought you’d lost sight of.
It’s simple to make: to begin with, you take
Some flour and butter and milk,
And mix it up well, as a sauce béchamel,
Till it’s lump-free and quite smooth as silk.

Then stir in some cheddar (gruyère would be

And maybe some brie in addition;
Combine this with hot macaroni (a lot)
And then let it bake to fruition.
If only the woes, the problems, the throes
Of this planet, including disease,
The whole sorry mix, were as easy to fix
As this fine macaroni and cheese!
Mae Scanlan
You want to write a poem? Nothing to it.
Forget that snooty book by Stephen Fry.
In thirty seconds I can guide you through it:
It really is as effortless as pie.
It’s only words, you know, not rocket science.
A funny bit of formatting like                         this
And you’re half-done already. A reliance
On vocab like ‘azure’ won’t go amiss.
Don’t worry if you’ve never had a leaning
For scholarship and thinking; if averse
To writing stuff that has some kind of meaning,
Just designate your efforts as ‘light verse’.
A poem with a rhyme-scheme may sound sweeter,
But that is not compulsory these days,
And nor is one obliged to write in metre
Or to apply either technique consistently.
Rob Stuart

No. 2824: seeing double

You are invited to submit a double clerihew (up to four each) about a well-known sporting figure past or present. Please email entries, wherever possible, to by midday on 13 November.

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