Remember fridge magnet poetry? You got the little boxes of magnetic words, emptied them out, stuck 'em on the fridge, rearranged them a bit, a bit more, those two words, change them round, need another adjective or two, and hey presto, poetry. Something to do while you waited for the toast to pop up in the morning.
Well, h2g2 wouldn't want you to get bored if you missed out on that little fad and your fridge is covered in souvenir magnets from Murmansk rather than slightly less than random groupings of words, so we have come up with our own not entirely dissimilar version.
What we are doing, in short, is using a page of an iconic book1 and asking you to rearrange the words in any way you see fit to make a poem.
And the book?
Alice in Wonderland2.
That's it, that's all the rules. Use the words that appear on the page and no more, although if you don't want to use them all, that's fine too. If the word 'the' appears 42 times, you can use 42 'the's in your poem. Or 30. Or 5. Or none - there are plenty more words you could be using. But 43 'the's? That would be cheating.
To make it easier we are even giving you the page right here, so that you don't have to rush off, find your copy of the book and start cutting it up 3.
And to really spur you on, our very own Pastey, Technical Lead, Chief Volunteer, Chairman of Field Researchers Ltd, inventor of h2g2's version of the Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster and legendary beer drinker, whose idea this was4, is kicking off the challenge with his own Alice-inspired verse, also below.
Beat that. No, go on, do. And then share it with us in the thread below.
Alice in Wonderland: Page 42
First came ten soldiers carrying clubs; these were all shaped like the three gardeners, oblong and flat, with their hands and feet at the corners: next the ten courtiers; these were ornamented all over with diamonds, and walked two and two, as the soldiers did. After these came the royal children; there were ten of them, and the little dears came jumping merrily along hand in hand, in couples; they were all ornamented with hearts. Next came the guests, mostly Kings and Queens, and among them Alice recognised the White Rabbit: it was talking in a hurried, nervous manner, smiling at everything that was said, and went by without noticing her. Then followed the Knave of Hearts, carrying the King's crown on a crimson velvet cushion; and last of all this grand procession, came THE KING AND QUEEN OF HEARTS.
Alice was rather doubtful whether she ought not to lie down on her face like the three gardeners, but she could not remember ever having heard of such a rule at processions; "and besides, what would be the use of a procession," thought she, "if people had to lie down upon their faces, so that they couldn't see it?" So she stood still where she was, and waited.
When the procession came opposite to Alice, they all stopped and looked at her, and the Queen said severely, "Who is this?" She said it to the Knave of Hearts, who only bowed and smiled in reply. "Idiot!" said the Queen, tossing her head impatiently; and turning to Alice, she went on, "What's your name, child?"
"My name is Alice, so please your Majesty," said Alice very politely; but she added, to herself, "Why, they're only a pack of cards, after all. I needn't be afraid of them!"
"And who are these?" said the Queen, pointing to the three gardeners who were lying round the rose-tree; for, you see, as they were lying on their faces, and the pattern on their backs was the same as the rest of the pack, she could not tell whether they were gardeners, or soldiers, or courtiers, or three of her own children.
"How should I know?" said Alice, surprised at her own courage. "It's no business of mine."
The Queen turned crimson with fury, and, after glaring at her for a moment like a wild beast, screamed "Off with her head! Off...."
"Nonsense!" said Alice, very loudly and decidedly, and the Queen was silent.
The King laid his hand upon her arm, and timidly said "Consider my dear: she is only a child!"
The Queen turned angrily away from him, and said to the Knave "Turn them over!"
carrying her courage upon her arm,
glaring after the children.
Who would lie stopped and bowed?
politely followed, nervous smiling,
all manner of grand Majesty.
is this it?
only your backs, the same as the rest,
surprised at crimson Nonsense.
decidedly silent, only a child
angrily, impatiently where she stood.
smiled with fury and screamed
like a beast of such doubtful moment