This witty, closely-observed poem might well have begun life as the imitation of an early English riddle. Indeed, lines nine and ten, which I particularly like, have the authentic Anglo-Saxon ring to them. The alternating of long and short lined couplets is skilful, and there are some delicious effects achieved through alliteration. Keats would almost certainly have admired the first two lines. Perhaps I'm being a nit (rather than pear) picker, but the shift from "it" to "he" near the end looks like a moment's uncorrected forgetfulness in an otherwise immaculate piece of writing.
Soft green body soaked in sugar juices Candlewick stalk, the smooth cones rounded Sweet to taste Happy to be a feast Hanging on a branch waiting for a picker Trying to attract the right devourer To pierce the flesh The juices run fresh Not king of the bowl, understudy of others The half crushed character, buried under brothers Soon you forgot And it started to rot He has no hard shell, no leathery skin Just delicate layers to keep the juices in Soft to touch Easy to crush.
Tim Fassam,(14) receives Back by Midnight by John Mole (Puffin). Submitted by Barry Smith of Bishop Luffa School, Chichester, West Sussex, who receives a set of Poetry Society posters with teachers' notes. For Poetry Society events, ring 0171 240 2113.