. The Prize Poem – P. G. Wodehouse
Once a misanthropic man sets aside a portion of his income for perpetuating his memory after his death, and at the same time harassing a certain section of mankind.According to his will, that money is to be utilized for giving a prize to the writer of the best poem on – a given topic, from the sixth form of St. Austin’s college. The condition is that all the boys of the sixth form should participate in the annual poetry competition.
The topic prescribed for that year’s competition is “ The college “. Smith, a student of the sixth form is more interested in cricket than in poetry, but he is also compelled to write a poem. He approaches Reynolds, a student of a lower class who was in the infirmary after an attack of German measles. Reynolds writes a stanza describing the college as an “ Imposing pile “ and as a battlefield of cricket and foot ball matches. He scribbles the stanza on two other sheets. When the nurse, Mrs. Lee enters the sick room forcefully, the two sheets are blown outside by a strong wind. Reynolds does not attempt to retrieve them.
Montgomery and Morrison, two other students of the sixth form, manage to get each of the two sheets. As a result, Smith, Montgomery and Morrison submit their poems beginning with the same stanza. The Headmaster, Rev. Arthur James Perceval, sends all the poems to Mr. Wells, his great college friend, for examination. Mr. Wells writes back saying that only the poem of Rogers of the sixth form was moderately good compared to the other poems. He further comments that three comedians of the sixth form have cheated the Headmaster by writing the same stanza.
The Headmaster is rather upset and he calls the three students for investigation Smith agrees that the stanza is the creation of Reynolds. The other two confess that they have found the stanza in the field near the infirmary. Instead of getting angry, the Headmaster realizes that the fraud is due to the rule of compelling all the students to write poems. Because of his eloquent speech at the next Board meeting, the idiotic practice of compelling disinterested students to participate in the poetry competition is abolished.