17 June 2008

Words and Weapons

The Spectator magazine runs word-playful competitions on its back pages that I've often entered but never come close to winning (altho' once mentioned in despatches).

June 7th's was to write a poem or prose ending with 'The pen (or pun) is mightier than the sword'.

The intro to the comp tells me,

"the tag comes from a play, Richelieu by Lord Lytton, the 19th-century politician remembered today, if at all, for The Last Days of Pompeii. "
I never knew that; I thought it was something Shakespeare tossed off. See how good the comp is? And it's not even kicked off yet.

The entry that caught my eye wasn't the winner, but Bill Greenwell is my kind of word wrangler and I suspect he is Wells sahib's too. The donnish Baddeley's, too, come to think of him, now he's back in my life.

Ink beats the sight of meadow, turf or lawn:
The pen is mightier than the sward.
Shakespeare cheers Macbeth, though Caesar-born:
The pen is mightier than Siward.

The writer tops the conjuror for tricks:
The pen is mightier than the sawed.
Print shames the plague, hits purulence for six:
The pen is mightier than the sored.

Nibs pip the pimps and any prostitute:
The pen is mightier than those whored.
Man Booker? Better than the Golden Boot:
The pen is mightier than this award.

Type trounces battlers - fight and you're the ones
The pen is mightier than, thus warred.
As we can see, the pen chops down the puns -
The pen is mightier than the sword.

'Purulence', indeed. So new to me, I typed it 'prurience' but the copy editor in me re-read and corrected.

I'm not sure about 'this award' and I'm sort of disappointed he felt he had to end with the line itself, but I guess them was the rules.

But some gleaming gems there, and I just hope the Speccie turns a blind eye to my quoting Greenwell in toto. (Even if they don't, Learnèd Counsel will have to come out to Corfu to serve me the papers whereupon the Ionian sun and Dimitra's wiles will soon have any misunderstanding in perspective.)

No comments :