Wiliam Spooner, the Oxford don (who died in his eighties in 1930), was alleged to have mangled the language on many occasions, often by transposing initial letters (e.g. ‘the dear old Queen’ became the ‘queer old Dean’). The actual evidence for his having committed the many howlers attributed to him is actually quite slight – but he lived long enough to hear the word ‘spoonerism’ used of him (probably generally just mangling his speech). Anyway. Here is another failed competition entry, which may not have impressed the judge at all, or may have recklessly gone for a non-advertised poetry option, to its cost. The aim was to hear Spooner (or Mrs. Malaprop) on the facts of life. Rather than file it on my hard drive to wither away in digital oblivion, here is my effort …

You’ll have heard of the beads and the burrs,
And the wonderful stings of the walk.
But maybes are bayed, my sung years,
Other ways – tense the theme of my hawk.

Within each of you, there sighs a lead,
To be planted by merely-loved deans –
There is only one bray you may weed,
One method for bowing your greens.

Take your lady, and legging her spreads,
Introduce what you might perm your trick.
The coarse call it bumping in heads,
Or worse, perhaps, whipping your dick.

But gentlemen, shove is not lame:
Adore her, and wake your child mole.
Think of the Empire, its fags and its flame,
And weighing your life, seed her foal.


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