In Competition No. 2927 you were invited to submit a Christmas carol written in the style of a writer of your choice. Albert Black’s ‘Once in Royal David’s City’ by way of Will Self raised a seasonal smile: ‘Erstwhile in posh Dave’s municipality/ Upraised a plebeian bovid shack…’ As did George Simmers, who imagined Allen Ginsberg’s ‘Christmas Howl’: ‘Ommm … I have seen ecstatic visions of Noddy Holder, and of King Wenceslas riding naked upon a reindeer…’ The winners take £35 and Sylvia Fairley nabs the festive fiver. Merry Christmas, and thank you, veterans and newcomers alike, for all your inventive, witty and well-made entries. Keep ’em coming.
It is the very model of a modern-day Nativity,
a time for festive joy beside commercial productivity
to mark a maid who’s given birth but hung on to virginity
in spite of intervention by a member of the Trinity.
Since throes of procreation might have left her rather quivery
the retail angel, Amazon, ensured a fast delivery;
now visitors are welcomed in, for no one ever underrates
the simple joy of bringing gifts, and shepherds bearing ungulates.
Who needs satnav? The kings have found, to help them in their reckoning,
a new celestial navigator — stellar sales are beckoning;
the goodwill season isn’t done, we’re glad to find Epiphany’s
a time to offer frankincense and myrrh, with gold from Tiffany’s.
And now the January sales will find the buyers bordering
on mass hysteria, or worse — just stuck at home mail-ordering.
And as the herald angels sing, the people won’t be tarrying,
they’ll greet the day with Christmas cheer and zealous cash-and-carrying.
Sylvia Fairley/W.S. Gilbert
There’s a season when we celebrate the ’oly virgin birth
And we pray like ’onest Christians to be granted peace on earth
And we wish goodwill to all men, even them we’ve fought before,
But ’oo can ’alt the bullets when the terrorist wants war?
Back in the Great War mortal foes, the Tommyand the Hun,
Laid down their arms to fraternise and ’ave some Christmas fun,
But with the press ’ysteria and the politicians lyin’,
It takes more than a football game to stop the drones a-flyin’.
We’ve all ’eard of the stable and the ’eavenly angel choir
And wise men ’eading westward with their gifts for the Messiah,
But wiser still are them ’oo know that all Messiahs fail
And the angels, like the ones at Mons, are just a made-up tale.
With any God or no God, you can share the Christmas mood.
You can shut out death and ’orror with a glut of booze and food.
Old ’Ebrew myths may underlie the whole mystique of Yule,
But those who mutter ‘humbug!’ are another kind of fool.
G.M. Davis/Rudyard Kipling
Round the Hundred-acre Wood
Deep in Dark December
Word ran of something wholly Good,
Ever to remember.
Christmas was the Word they heard,
Happy and triumphant.
Every animal and bird
Felt joy quite Heffalumpant.
Tigger bounced in pure delight
Kanga leapt and bounded,
Piglet squealed with all his might,
Eeyore’s brays resounded.
Rabbit hopped and tried to skip,
Pooh composed an air,
Owl stretched wings from tip to tip,
And one Boy said a prayer.
W.J. Webster/A.A. Milne
In the bleak midwinter is where the story starts.
His parents and the shepherds are there to play their parts.
Wise men, too, are present at his crib of straw and twigs
Along with cattle — ox and ass though not Five Little Pigs.
The babe pays no attention to the ox’s warning low
Foretelling woe before him, or rather, woe on woe!
His mother, listening, marvels at her baby’s gentle breath
Not knowing he is bound for an Appointment with Death.
Someone plans his downfall, but who will be to blame?
His parents, shepherds, wise men? Each one is in the frame.
But time is on his side, till now his killer hasn’t pounced
And many years will pass before A Murder is Announced.
In the bleak midwinter the infant’s fate is sealed
But mystery clouds the climax — as yet to be revealed,
Suffice to say a paradox, which few can comprehend,
Casts doubt on the conclusion — that Death Comes as the End.
Alan Millard/Agatha Christie
No 2930: macaronic
You are invited to submit up to 16 lines of macaronic verse. Please email entries, wherever possible, to email@example.com by midday on 6 January.
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