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Listener No. 4405: Revision by Tangram

Posted by Dave Hennings on 22 July 2016

This week, we had Tangram’s third Listener, his second being three year’s ago and based on The Listeners by Walter de la Mare. That was a Letters Latent puzzle, and so was this. Here we had to identify a poem, with the latent letters spelling out its first two lines, with two words missing and supplied by an extra word in each of two clues. One row would contain two entries which cryptically represented the poem’s third line.

Listener 4405My first pass through the clues — and a couple of minutes more — gave me the best part of a score of entries in the grid. These included DECAS[T]ERE and EMUL[A]TOR across, and CHICK P[E]A, [P]ORKIEST and PT[E]RANODON down. Consequently, I had a nice smattering of entries in the grid, and this enabled solving to continue reasonably smoothly.

Two clues needed careful analysis, initially seeming too verbose. 9dn Manner of dress pains older adolescent, it’s said (4) was a definition of TENUE (manner of dress) and two wordplays, TENE (pains) and a homophone for TEEN (older adolescent). 28dn Good water spring, great Scotch, Elgin’s capital extra mature (4) was similar with G + EYE and GEY + E both being the wordplay with GREYER being defined by extra mature.

It’s always entertaining to have an LL clue where more than one of the required letter is omitted from the full word, GREYER being the only one in this puzzle. However, it is a credit to any setter to be able to have the latent letters spell out the required quotation in the order of the clues, so I just had to make do with GREYER.

I was very late in solving 1ac and 2dn. At 1ac Church engaged in quiet opening part of liturgy (6), I was trying to get a variation of SHACHARIS to fit, a word given by Mrs B, but not in Chambers (so why I spent so much time on it is a mystery). ST[I]CHOS was, of course, the correct entry. TERES MAJOR at 2dn was an obvious anagram of Jar stereo plus M to give TERES MAJOR, but that was new to me (and I refused to cheat).

Meanwhile row 10 had BRINE-PI[T] entered backwards and S[H]ADOW entered jumbled, but their exact relevance to the poem still had to be discovered — mainly because the poem was still a mystery. Anyway, the quotation and poet were finally revealed: I have a rendezvous with death at some disputed barricade. A Seeger. Barricade and rendezvous were superfluous words in 24ac and 7dn respectively. Line three was “When Spring comes back with rustling shade” and was represented by BRINE-PI[T] (salt spring) reversed and S[H]ADOW (shade) jumbled.

Listener 4405 My EntrySeeger was an American poet who enlisted in the French Foreign Legion at the start of the First World War and was killed in action in July 1916. The poem I have a Rendezvous with Death ends with the fatalistic lines:

But I’ve a rendezvous with Death
At midnight in some flaming town,
When Spring trips north again this year,
And I to my pledged word am true,
I shall not fail that rendezvous.

Thanks to Tangram for a well-crafted puzzle and for helping me experience another poet’s view of the War, poignant and haunting.


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