from Academic Graffiti

By W. H. Auden

Fulke Greville
Wrote beautifully at sea level:
With each rising contour his verse
Got progressively worse.

Sir Rider Haggard,
Was completely staggered
When his bride-to-be
Announced "I AM SHE!"

Georg Friedrich Händel
Was highly respected in Kendal:
It was George Frederick Handel
Who caused all the scandal.

Joseph Haydn
Never read Dryden
Nor did John Dryden
Ever hear Haydn.

No one could ever inveigle
Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel
Into offering the slightest apology
For his Phenomenology.

Paul Valéry
Earned a meagre salary,
Walking through the Bois,
Observing his Moi.

Good Queen Victoria
In a fit of euphoria
Commanded Disraeli
To blow up the Old Bailey.

To get the Last Poems of Yeats,
You need not mug up on dates;
      All a reader requires
      Is some knowledge of gyres
And the sort of people he hates.


Used by permission of Curtis Brown, Ltd.
Copyright © 1938, 1940.
All rights reserved.