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Last updated: January 7, 2006

Light Verse: Sheer Word Play:

The following light-verse poems deal with oddities of words and word-sounds – verbal farces.

Etherial Speculations

Do either and neither
Rhyme with lither and scyther
Or do either and neither
Rhyme with breather and seether?
Which is right? I say either -
Or is it either?


Some prudes call the anus
While others aver (just between us) it's the penis
That is heenous;
Yet others insist that hyenas
Are hy-eenous,
While Diana-doting tabloids decry the doings of Her Highness
As highnous,
Some hairdressers assert that hennas
Are hennous
And Kennedy bashers wonder if what went on in the Port of Hyannis
Was not hyanous.
I don't know which should most pain us:
The heinous or vulgarians who don't know that the heinous on
Uranus mainly on the plain is?

Compearisons – An Eye-Twister

A pear should be a peer,
Or so it would appear,
For we should fear, not fare,
To eat a pear, not pare.
Who dears to eat a pear?
And yet to eat a pear
Will disappear a pear.
A pear's shaped like a tear.
Therefore who pares a pear
Is one who tears a tear.
A pair of pearly pears
Defeats my weary ears.
But what did weary Peary
Wear? - of peril wary,
Of bears perhaps grown leery.
And Dr. Timothy Leary -
Did he drink bear or beer?
This bare bear buried here -
Bear berries to his bier.
He'd hear if he were here.
Then pare a pair of pears;
They're Pere's, not merely Mere's.
The end is coming near -
Or so it would appear
Upon this peerless pier
If there were merely here.

Gee Ws.

He misses his Missus
Since she became Ms.
He hates how she hisses
That she is not Hs.
And O how he misses
Their first wedded blisses:
After I-do's and kisses,
He fondled his Mrs.
For hrs. and hrs.

Many A Yemeni

Brother fights brother, Yemeni Gemini.
Can any Yemeni be to a Yemeni
Venomy enemy? Many can. Yeah, many.

Alas, Nogh

Did Gauguin teach Van Gogh
To eat dates and mangogh?
But why, then, did Van Gogh
Beg Gauguin, "Gau, man, Gau!"?

A Cynical Franco-German Philospher Ponders God's Place In Nature

Dieu, du doodoo!
do you do dew?

A Pithy Thought

Today I wash my clothes.
My days creep by in prothes.

Segue From Hague To Ague

Negotiations at the Hague
At worst will leave you feeling vague,
Whereas a nasty touch of ague
Will fag- and nag- and drag- and sague.

Higgardly Piggardly

A politician dumped for saying "nig-
Gardly? Quite right! We're tired of the stig-
Ma that so cruelly is attached to those
Who, when it comes to cash, are on their toes,
That is, the "tight-wads," "Scrooges", "pikers," "skinflints,"
The "stingy penny-pinching cheapskates," invinc-
Ible against tears, pleas, calamity,
Those poor heart-challenged generosity-
Disabled! Can they help their being niggardly?
Can whales and elephants help being big? Hardly!
Enough! Now proudly raise aloft our SCROOGE flags
And drive from office all those spendthrift Doogebags!

Hopefully NOT

"Won't you be mine," he asked, hopefully.
"No way, Jose," she scoffed, nopefully.
"But you're my sun!" he cried, tropefully,
"My only one!" he sighed, dopefully;
"Alas, poor me!" he whined, mopefully.
"You SHALL be mine!" he vowed, Popefully,
"Else I shall DIE!" he gasped, soapfully.
"Here, use this noose," she said, ropefully.
"Please, one last kiss!" he begged, gropefully.
"I'll give that a miss," she grinned, SCOPEfully.
"Can't we be friends?" he asked, hopefully.
"Her roommate's nice," he mused, copefully.

Too Pat? -- A Raft of Anagrams

Potato makes Pa toot
And Pat, too,
Emits, rat-a-tat-tat, a tattoo.
Tomato makes Ma toot
And Mat, too
Bloated, with a blast, stops being fat too.
The bean is Eban's bane:
GAS MASKS! means --
O saddest words -- that Eban might have bean!
A rag man in the lane --
Neal -- fat, obscene --
Laid, with elan, Lena; grew, with one peal, lean!

The Language of Our English Ansters

The Duchess of Marlborough
Was bit by a Carlborough.
Her cousin, Dame Worcester,
Was pecked by a Rorcester.
The wife of poor Gloucester --
Poor fellow, he loucest her.

[Note: The English pronounce "Marlborough" mobra, "Worcester" wooster, and "Gloucester" gloster (more or less).]

Bidding Lust a Fast Adios

His love's not been fastidious.
He's plunged for that fast titty-ass,
But charms of the vast-tittious
Have palled, become, fast, tedious.
He's done without - fasted he has,
Grown sick of that fast Id he has
That goads him to fast idioc-
Y, sex become fast hideous.

Vas -- a Vessel: Every Seman Needs One

There's a vast difference
between a vast deference
and a vas deferens:
The former (hers toward him)
stirs the latter (his, toward her)
to launch sperm on their last, deep errands
with a shout: VIVA LA DIFFERENCE!

Such Chill Eyes

At parties try to socialize,
With civil smile and social eyes
Exchanging sundry social lies,
"Me too's", "Far out's!" and "So shall I's",
But don't want more from such allies
Or seek depth in blue sea-shell eyes,
For as you flatter, so she lies,
Cool as her drink in social ice.

Little Homily

If you umlaut the "o", ordering omelet,
Your waiter may bring an old amulet,
To eat which would surely humiliate
Your date, whose hot scorn would quite
Your umlauted dignity. Emulate,
When in Rome, simple Romans--else
Elsewhere. That's all to my homilette.

Sham Or Steal One

To cheer himself when most alone
The poet tries for mots d'elan,
Or if he can't, he mows the lawn
And dreams of putting muscle on
To look like Don Primo Stallone
Or else a hairy mastodon.
Behind him, still with muzzle on,
He drags his sulky muse along
On leash of the dream he must still own
To be a poet, though a most stale one.


The rapist.
Thorough pest.
T'here a beast.
Terror past?
Tear repressed.
Tare repast.
Theory appeased:
There ape is.
Tear up best.
Terra pissed.
Tar! Up his!

Look, Mommie! A Menomonie Anemone!

Have you ever given an anemone an enema?
Many an anemone enema? How anomalous.
If I were you, I'd remain anonymous and
enigmatic, perhaps become a Menomonie Mennonite,
but even an enigmatically anonymous
anomalous Menomonite of the Mennonite
denomination mustn't give (for ANY money)
even an enemy anemone an enema in Menomonie!

Butter Patter

A playboy pundit lunched with a high-
handicap golfer and a baseball player:
"Please pass me a pat of butter,"
said the patter of butts
to the batter of putts.
"There's a lot of fat in butter,"
the bum batter of bunts (often a fanner)
warned the patter of buns
(for keeping up the patter of puns
was his role).
"Is a fatter butt from butter fat better
than a batter's fun with a fatter bun?"
bum-punning pundit asked butt of puns.
"Butter makes me flatulent,"
said the bum putter, his bum putting,
"but I'll bet a far better butter fat fart I fart
than I have ever farted before."

One More Rhyme Would Be A Miracow!

O how to write a lyric! How?
When I've a fatal earache--OW!
It burns like that O'Leary cow.
Fierce storm I; mad as Lear, echo.

To My Third Wife's Mother, To Whom, When She Gave Us
A Micro-Wave Oven, I Protested That If, Like My Second
Wife's Mother, She'd Given Us A Wok, I Could Have Responded
"I'll Never Wok Alone," To Which She Responded That It
Should Be As Easy To Be Clever About A Micro-Wave Oven
As About A Wok -- And Who Thought Herself Mortal

Meadows, row by endeMIC ROW, WAVE OF AN evening,
While the red sun settles behind the windy grass.
As your daughter stuffs MY CRAW, WAVE OF ANother
Wind billows my belly, settles in my ass.
Be it so till we are borne our different ways
By death's dark wave--unless this tiME I CROW:
WEAVE A FANdango, Mother! We to the cosMIC CROW
WAIVE, OF A Need, but bodies: I told you so!

A Guide to the Perplices and Multiple Divorcees

Index, indices, codex, codices,
Kleenex, Kleenices,
cleaning so nicely
our noisy nosies,
Kotex, Kotices,
to service cervices,
coat like poultices
the monthly hices
that hex our spouses -
or spice, if mice
are mouses;
Silex, Silices,
hot bitter brews
that solace our silences;
Memorex, memorices,
reck not what they shrill to pieces;
sex, sices,
two sices fit all,
fat or tall,
so precisely;
rex, rices -
we loves them rices to pieces;
lex, lices to vex our vices;
sex, sices -
any pretext entices;
as ex becomes ices,
mere suffix suffices
to suffuse pent appendices
on lonely matrices,
memories (not memorices)
our complex accomplices.

Columbus Sailed The Ocean Blue,
But Not In 194... - You Know

Baseball players, in honor of Jackie Robinson,
have retired the number 42 - no future big-leaguer
will wear that number. But we can do more:
Let's ALL retire the number 42. We'll count
"...40, 41, 43...". Some of us will be
a year older - or is it younger? My birth year
(1942) will vanish from the records. Billions
will be spent changing software worldwide
to dispense with 42. It will cost a forthreen,
and that will require intestinal fortithreed.
It will take planning. It's not something that
happens overnight or forthreeitously. Wait!
I think it's happened already! (As quick as you
can say "Jack Robinson!") My forty...forty...
what's that number? Oops...

the brain circuits
for that number have vanished! The number
once referred to as... I'll submit myself
to a simple test: "If you invite John and Mary
and no one else over for tea, how many are you
having?" "For tea? T...t... - I can't say it."
"Good. How many tuna is ten tuna from 50 tuna?"
"Forty." "Forty what?" "Forty...of those fish."
"Excellent! What is 84 divided by two?"
"EEEP! System Error! Abort? Retry? Ignore?"

Too Late For Tutu To Intercede?

Papa explored the Limpopo,
armed with only a BB gun,
to see what he could tsetse.
Meanwhile, back at Lake Titicaca,
Mama stuffed paw paws
down her maw maw
and prayed that the Mau Mau
wouldn't get their paw paws
on Papa.

Cuckoo Kaka Cacophony

Mama said "OhOh" when Papa went gaga
at the too too chichi tutus
of FrouFrou, Fifi, Mimi and Gigi,
the Pago Pago gogo girls.
"Hubba Hubba! Pip Pip! VavaVoom!
Boula Boula! Ooh lala!"
ululated Papa--"Can you cancan
and cha cha and hula hula
to my Honolulu ukulele?"
"Oui Oui!" squealed Gigi,
stripping to her Bora Bora lava lava.
"Tut tut!" poohpoohed Mama,
"I'm going back to Walla Walla,
for it is a far far better place."
"I need no nana, Mama,
so ta-ta" called Papa,
hoping to have a beriberi good time,
in deeper doodoo than he knew, nu? -
the dumdum, treating FrouFrou,
Fifi, Mimi and Gigi
to a dindin of couscous, cocoa,
paw paws, bananas and baba au rum,
every jigjig of their jug-jugs
playing yoyo with his peepee
as they stuffed their teenyweeny tumtums.
But after so-so sex, the gogo bimbos
went bye-bye with the dodo's dough
and his peepee burned (ow! ow!)
when he went weewee (owEE!).
"Oi Yoi Yoi!" groaned Papa,
"I've made a lulu of a booboo!"

All That Quivers is Not Cold

As she spooned her purple jello,
He reached beneath her shirt
To ensure that she was kneaded in
Her time of grapest dessert.


Praise for haikus: haikudos.
Insect-themed haiku: Haikucarracha.
Beat-Zen-inspired haiku: haicool.
Wedding haiku: Hitch-haiku.
Eccentric haikuists: Haikooks.
Romantic haiku: Haicooing.
Horny haiku: Haikooh-lala!
Haiku infestation: Haicooties.
Grateful haiku: Haiku-very-much
Haiku for greeting religious leaders: Haikhoumeni
Sharply insightful haiku: Haikumen
Collected haiku: Haikumulation
Religiously tolerant haikus: Haikumenical
Ability to understand haiku: HaiQ
Too-clever haiku: Haicute.

Of A Pious Texan Who Answers The Phone, "HeavenO?"

She sells sea s-heavens (down by the sea s-honest-woman?)
and somewhere an addled ardent feminist
tries to extract the "he" from "she"
or perhaps consigns her enemies to Shell.

And this "Heaveno" gent, what will he do
with "He'll"? He'll say "He'aven, yes,
he will! Heaveno -- O O Heaven, licensed
to save. It's enough to make one
want to heave, no?

What is done to the least of these,
my words, even is it done unto me.
But who am I to condemn, indeed?

Hersh-eyed Kisses

I was not monk-eyed
as I monkeyed with her.
I had her in the alley;
we allied.

Some Eyes I'd Eyed

"Honeyed", "her honeyed lips", funny,
I've seen that word 1000 times before
without noticing that "honEYED" includes
"eyed", making it a portmanteau for
sweet eyes, honeyed, though it
could also be the fierce, Hun-eyed gaze
of Attila. Is it I Honey eyes with
honeyed eyes? (Another discovery, the
"yes" in her "eYES", Aye! TWO aYES!)
Honeyed, I'd eyed her back.

Honeyed eyes are stickiest in the Spring,
so beware the hon-eyeds of March.
Honeyed eyes stir dreams, all the "I woulds",
or, contracted (as our dreams, alas, are),
the "I'ds". Both I'ds and Ids the eyes undid:
Eyed and ID'd (the idea!) by honeyed eyes,
I'd unhid my Id. Error? I saw nor eyed
nor air of err.

In the land of the blonde, the honeyed man is king.

Almost as sweet, "monEYED"
is a towering eyeful:
Derived from mono-eyed? --
like the cyclopean pyramid on the dollar bill?

Money for moneyed classes, monocles
for one-eyed glasses. Mon-ocled means
single-eyed (mon-eyed): Only posh snobs
peer through monocles, their glares
one-eyed, moneyed, honed, unhoneyed.

In the land of the bland, the moneyed man is king.


Learning Languages at the Movies

[Note: The following poem is hard to get if you don't read it aloud and really feel the various accent as they'd be done in a corny movie. For example, if you speak as the first two lines describe -- as if with mouth numbed by novacain -- you may surprise yourself with a good imitation of James-Mason English gentility.]

Numb your mouth till it's not tinglish --
Novacain helps you sound English.
Twist your mouth up tight -- you're French!
(Undo it with a monkey wrench.)
Loudly clear your throat...that's German,
Yah! Zehr gut fur Drang-und-Sturmen!
Add a spritzing cough -- not much...
Ach! Meinheer, I think you're Dutch!
Purse your lips in singsong Swedish --
A mouth you see each time you feed fish.
What a witches' cauldron we brew
When in Gaza we speak Hebrew!
Duck your head...again... -- You're Chinese.
Back to English -- give your spine ease.
Shrug and tell a joke -- dat's Yiddish:
Survival of the gefillte fittish.
Tarzan movies teach you Bantu --
You can Ooga-booga, can't you?
Sword or pen? When cursed in Arabic,
Rue the day you chose to wear a bic.
(Just pretend you're choking -- gutteral --
While you're yelling "FOOK YAR MUTTER, AL!")
Senor, you'll sound a leetle Espanish,
Squeezed into these tight men's pannish.
Can he speak a perfect Mehican?
"Jappinese eez Jeaven!" -- Yeh, he can.
Ichi! Nichi! Hai! Speak Japanese!
(Or try seppuku for your crappin' ease.)
"An eye for an eye" -- that's law by talion.
Eyeah fora da eyeah -- datsa Eyeahtalion!
You've heard Apu's crisp sing-song Hindi?
Sounded like Peter Sellers, dindi!
Hold tight, bear down, PUSH out, Gush! -- In
Childbirth? No, you're speaking Russian.
Ojibway, Sioux, Blackfeet, Apache --
Ugh, all talkum same -- it catchy.
Omit all vowels: If you're still talkin',
Probably you're talkin' Balkan.
Is no czoch to czat in Czech:
Czust do Roosian -- who'll suszpech?
Vod'z zee deeverrenze? Bote eez Slavic --
Schniff, schneeze, nodz jammed: Heavy dravic.
This will serve, too, for Hungarian.
(If the Huns hear, you're dung! Carrion!)
When in Karachi, do as the Urdu:
Do Apu, but glare, look dour, too.
Arabic should pass for Turkish --
Just look more bureaucratic, clerkish.
Movies will not teach you Kurdish --
Kurdish wordish there aren't heardish.
Turkish will not do -- dismays
The Kurd who hears -- and Kurds have ways.
Any geek can be a Greek!
Up on the table, DANCE! -- don't speak!
Snap your fingers, clap, drink more -- BAH!
Every tosspot thinks he's Zorba.
Don't say "Australian" -- say "Strine", Myte --
Your Crocodile Dundee's just fine, Myte.
Indo, Micro, Poly -nesia --
Movies only teach AM-nesia --
But in Siam you order dinner
Just by practicing Yul Brynner
In King and I: Now all together...uh...
Say "Etcetera Etcetera...".
Yankee talkee nicee pidgin?
It won't hurt to have a smidgen.
There may be more things African
Than Tarzan teaches. Whenever he can,
Who visits there should, without doubt
Read Out of Africa...and then get out!
Go where they speak American
(But don't tell Louis Farakhan
I said so). Even Canada
(Although it's not the lanada
Free), hasn't got the tse-tse fly,
So give yourself a treat -- say "bye"
To Africa, and intuit
The language of the Inuit.
In Canada you'll catch on pronto
To the lingo of Toronto,
But when "about" becomes "a boot",
Don't dawdle -- it's time to get OOT!
Come home, speak real American
As any Dick or Harry can,
Except in Texas or the Bronx --
Georgia? Arkansas? No Thonx!
Brooklyn? Boston? Minnesota?
(Is there speech in North Dakota?)
California? (They "do" lunch.)
Lock-jawed Vermont? Thanks a bunch.
Alabama? Mississippi?
I'll stay where the winter's nippy.
Inner City -- anywhere?
Seen the flick -- not on a dare!
But I'd go there, earn a gang wage
Ere I'd yap Professors' language:
"Not unlikely", "deconstruction"...
Deconstruct THIS! (Shrewd deduction.)
So where's it safe to speak American?
Where you're reading this -- right there I can!

See notes to the next poem below the poem.

What's in a Poet's Name

There's not much wit in Whitman's work,
And Whittier's scarcely wittier;
There is no dick in Dickinson
(Now don't you DARE to pity her!) note 1

But hippity hop goes hyper Hopkins, note 2
Whose bounding beats abound;
There's frost in hoary, rimey Frost,
And we impounded Pound. note 3

Pope certainly pontificates, note 4
But Shakespeare's peerless -- call him Shakes!
Now Keats and Yeats are surely greats,
But even they are no great Shakes.

When Robert Burns, is Robert Browning?
And do Hart's Cranes build Robert's Bridges? note 5
Why didn't Samuel's Taylor take him
From rags to Coleridges?

Did Frost build walls for Wall-less Stevens?
John Suckling's poems don't suck -- they should!
Yet Marvell's poems are marvelous:
His mistress, wooed, sure would! note 6

Seeking low rents, D. H. Lawrence
Settled down in arid Taos,
Till borne hence on hectic torrents
Of TB and purple praose.

They called him mad, but Kit was Smart, note 7
Bold bard of Bedlam's filthy straw,
and Swift gives one a good Swift kick,
And, Gee! B. Shaw's inclined to Pshaw!

Aren't Robert's Graves a trifle crypt-ic?
But Parker moving? John Gay sad?
Nashe is terse, but Nash's a Rambler note 8
(Not Olds nor Ford nor Hughes -- the cad!). note 9

Snide Parker should have been named Snider;
For Gary Snyder -- Wilde's a good name.
Rename Oscar "Seamus Heaney" --
Press-Dubbed Heinous Seamy -- "SHAME!" note 10

Oscar IS a little wild,
But cummings is orgiastic.
Apt, since a Borgia served as Pope,
Pope's venom is Borgiastic. note 11

John's a literary lion,
A coffee house his UNdry den. note 12
Annabel Lee we cannot see:
Poe's hidin' her with Poseidon. note 13

Poor poet Poe, he hid behind
A demon-possessed pale repose.
Peruse Poe's posers: Poe's prose pose
Posed Poe among the proud prose pros.

Knowing the little worth of words,
Wordsworth spewed thousands out.
Did Robert's Service score and did he
Put old Tennys-on to rout? note 14

Dick Lovelace could not love lace so,
Loved he not Marianne Moore – note 15
The Moore that Emily's never seen,
Though of its existence sure. note 16

Gray's "Elegy" is twilight gray.
Do Merrill's poems roll merrily?
Adrift in ashy bland meander,
Is meaning buried Ashberyly? note 17

All vigor's in Hells black-burned lake,
Says Blake: Bright angels banned Erg;
Who's ever seen infinity
Within a grain of Sandburg? note 18

Lovelace, Suckling - Cavaliers;
Carew's one of that merry crew.
A "crew" is what we call a gang:
Tom Hood must have been in one too.

And did Tom Hood conceal Thom Gunn note 19
Or Donne, who was a Canon? – note 20
But not a loose one: Done by Donne,
The sermons rarely ran on.

John Donne was jailed -- in a Donne-John? --
By orders of his young wife's Dad.
Donne joked with God: "Thou hast not Donne" --
This just before God HAD. note 21

I wonder what Haas has and just
How much was Donald's Haul?
Deprived of cash, did Crashawe crash?
Did Spender spend it all? note 22

Did Shelley Shilly-shally? No!
WOULD he? Why then SHALL he!
Outspoken, willful, slightly silly,
Last seen sailing with a pal, he. note 23

To grab our wandering attention
Just merge bards Dove and Lifshin,
For then we'll get our Rita-Lyn fix
Without need of prescription.note 24

H. Wadsworth's poems -- indeed, Longfellows!
Have you been pierced by Piercy?
Beaucoup Bukowski books -- beaucoup!
Bucolic? No, street-fierce he. note 25

Her tyrant Dad has crushed her spirit --
How can Elizabeth bear it?
If saved by Bob, how will she count
The ways of love he'll merit? note 26

Did rude, hard Kipling play for Kips?
Is Landor's terseness Savage?
Wild Byron WOULD say "Bye" and run.
(His Ada aided Babbage.) note 27

In Auden's poem, Icarus falls,
Ignored by all that's Audenary.
A boy is tumbling from the sky --
How very very odd 'n airy! note 28

Does Padraic's Colum bear Ammon's Arch?
How much did Robert Warren Penn?
Does Larkin think it's all a lark
Until the dark -- and then...and then? note 29

Sam Johnson argues with such force
It seems there must be two of him --
Johnson and Johnson, Wham! Bam! Sam!
Why Sir, there's a whole crew of him.

A cowl's a hood, so Thomas Hood's
Akin to Abraham Cowley,
But not to Colley Cibber, whom
Pope made the king of Folly. note 30

Was Matthew (like short cummings) Prior?
How little Wilfred Owen Owns!
John Skelton's poems ARE skeletal --
Click-clack, like dancing bones. note 31

Did Jonathan Peale Elizabeth Bishop?
Some days Dame Edith doesn't Sitwell.
Did H. Doolittle get much done?
Did Ezra Pound and hit well? note 32

Bly? BAH! Bob Bly belies his poems:
His Iron John lacks iron-y.
He writes free verse, but makes men drum
A beat -- a closet Byron he. note 33

Robert Lowell -- Oh, well, LOW well
Need not mean a deep well.
His murky stuff may not quench thirst,
But it may help you sleep well. note 34

Unlike James Weldon Johnson, who
Wrote God's Trombones, Siegfried Sassoon's
Works mainly dealt with war. I wish
He'd also written God's Bassoons.

A poem should always be, not mean,
and should be fed lean steak, not quiche,
And never taken for a walk
But on an Archibald MacLeish. note 35

George Herbert's not a bitter Herb,
But a box of sweets, compacted:
We just accept God's love; then God
Forgets how bad we've acted. note 36

Is Thomas Hardy? Elinor Wily?
Did Stephen Vincent start Benét B'rith?
Who's Kenneth Fearing? Was Edna St. V.
A run-of-the-Mill lay (and who with)? note 37

The children playing in his poems
He kills -- though not like Manson,
But quiet, neat; yet dead is dead,
So how can John Crowe "Ransom!"? note 38

John NashBeryManly Hopkins
Kit MarLowElliOtway
Walter RaLeigh HUntermeyer
Wallace SteVensent Millay. note 39

Is Jonas Very? Does Julia Ward
Know Howe? You, author, Clough!
Steele, Greene, Peale, Butler, Peacock...names
Names names! Enough! ENOUGH! note 40

Notes on "What's in a Poet's Name:

1. Actually, I don't know if 19th Century American poet Emily Dickinson died a virgin, but there's nothing I know of to indicate otherwise. But I'd think it presumptuous of anyone to pity her for it, since she seems (in her poems, at least) to have been richly alive in her way. (And I did need a rhyme for Whittier [John Greenleaf].

2. 19th Century English poet Gerard Manly Hopkins' lines do hop – more so than any other poets. They have springs in them. The "Manly" part fits the vigor of them, but less so the man, perhaps – said to have been an in-the-closet homosexual (and Jesuit priest)...and terrific poet!

3. Frost refers to Robert, of course, who does have a frosty quality, a grimness beneath the folksy surface. And 20th Century American poet, Ezra Pound was, indeed, impounded: pent up in St. Elizabeth's insane asylum in D.C. for years after World War II. He was ruled insane because he was extreme in many ways, but also because he'd done broadcasts on fascist Italian radio during World War II, supporting Mussolini's government, with which America was at war. No one wanted to hang him for treason (for various reasons, including his brilliance as a poet, his friends in high places and the fact that he wasn't a paid traitor, just an intellectual with strong and maybe too-narrowly-reasoned ideas), but he was technically guilty of treason and would have been hanged if someone hadn't come up with the idea of calling him crazy. Years later he was released, and died in his beloved Italy.

4. In poems like "Essay on Man", Alexander Pope does lay down the law.

5. Hart Crane, 20th Century American poet. Robert Bridges, 19th-20th Century English poet. Besides the fact that cranes may be used in building bridges, the connection is that Crane spent a long time working on his unfinished poem on the Brooklyn Bridge.

6. 20th Century poet, Robert Frost wrote a famous poem about building walls which leads to 20th Century poet Wallace (wall-less) Stevens. Sir John Suckling and Andrew Marvell, 17th Century English poets, Marvell's most famous poem being addressed to his "Coy Mistress". And he a minister, too!

7. Kit (Christopher) Smart, late 18th Century poet, wrote his finest poetry while confined, with his cat, Geoffrey, to a cell in Bedlam (considered by some, not all, of his contemporaries insane).

8. Thomas Nashe, 16th Century dramatist; Ogden Nash, 20th Century humorist and poet – also see next note.

9. Sharon Olds, current American poet, John Ford, 16th-17th century English dramatist, Ted Hughs, 20th Century English poet. The logic runs from Nash (Ogden Nash) writing some humorous poems that ramble along with uneven long and short lines to the car (Nash Rambler) to other poets named like cars (Olds and Ford) to Hughs, whom some consider a cad (short for Cadillac) for his treatment of his poet-wife, Sylvia Plath, and, justly or not, blame him for her suicide.

10. Dorothy Parker was good at being snide in her poems. Gary Snyder is NOT snide, but is rather wild (Wilde), loving wilderness and living in and with it. Oscar Wilde, though unconventional, was in most respects a genteel fellow, but got in big trouble for more-than-allegedly having sex with a few young men (late 19th Century England, so maybe should have been named Seamus Heaney, a current Irish poet whose name, richly suggesting both "heinous" and "seamy", seems wasted on him (of whom I know no scandal), but would have suited poor Oscar, who, by the way, was also Irish by birth.

11. Cummings is orgiastic (that is, tends to be coming), and Alexander Pope is Borgiastic, referring to his venom as a satirist – he could really sting his targets. And Lucretia Borgia was a famous poisoner (venom), and one (or more?) of the Borgias became pope.

12. English poet, John Dryden (late 17th Century) was a literary lion who hung out in the coffee houses of London.

13. Poe's Annabel Lee runs down to the sea, which takes her (and Poseiden is Greek God of the Sea).

14. I moved from Robert Service (born 1874, Canadian poet) to Alfred Lord Tennyson, figuring a good service would play tennis.

15. Richard Lovelace (17th Century poet) wrote "I could not love thee so, my dear/ Loved I not honor more" (not "loved I not Marianne Moore – she being a 20th Century American poet.

16. One of Emily Dickinson's poems includes the line "I've never seen a moor".

17. Probably you wouldn't find James Merrill's poems particularly merry. The last two lines of this stanza attempt to describe John Ashbery's rather blandly obscure (in my opinion) poems.

18. In some of Blake's visionary poems, he represents angels as somehow suppressing energy and life (erg is a unit of energy), while Hell is represented as a source of life force. Blake writes of seeing infinity within a grain of Sand. Carl Sandberg (popular poet born 1878) seems to most readers these days a bit less visionary than he used to, less likely to open up vistas of infinity.

19. Tom Hood – Thomas Hood, 19th Century English poet. Thom Gunn – 20th (and 21st) century English poet.

20. John Donne was Canon of St. Paul's Cathedral in London, where he gave, among many sermons, the one that includes the passage "Ask not for whom the bell tolls..." and such other famous lines as "No man is an island."

21. John Donne was, indeed, thrown in jail for a time on a complaint from his father-in-law, who objected to the marriage. And he did write a poem that repeats a pun on his name (shameful, punning on a name like that!), tells God that when he forgives him all his sins, then "thou hast done," etc. – makes a series of "Donne-done" plays and builds them up into something rather moving.

22. Robert Haas, living American poet, Robert Hall, recently deceased American poet, Richard Crashawe, 17th Century, Stephen Spender, 20th Century English poet.

23. Describes Percy Bysshe Shelley, who drowned -- and was last seen alive going sailing with a pal..

24. Refers to two current poets, Lyn Lifshin and Rita Dove. I combined their first names to get RitaLyn (Ritalin).

25. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's poems do run on. Marge Piercy can be piercing. And Charles Bukowski's poems are as far from bucolic as you can get.

26. This stanza refers to Elizabeth Barrett Browning, who was rescued from a tyrannical father by Robert Browning.

27. Rude Hard is Rudyard Kipling. Next line refers to the very terse 19th Century poet, Walter Savage Landor. Next two lines: Byron did have a lot of quickie affairs (Bye and run). His daughter, Ada, worked with inventor Babbage to design an early non-electrical computer.

28. W. H. Auden's poem, "Musee de Beaux Arts" (forgive spelling) describes the fall of Icarus from the viewpoint of people who go about their business, hardly noticing a boy fall from the sky.

29. Padraic Colum – Irish poet. "Ammon's Arch" refers to American poet Archie Ammons. Larkin is English poet Phillip Larkin, who writes both darkly and jauntily.

30. For a time in the first half of the 18th Century, Colley Cibber, a very minor poet (but pretty good comic playwright) was poet laureate. In his satiric mock-epic poem about bad English poetry, THE DUNCIAD, the far greater poet, Alexander Pope, made Cibber the chief dunce.

31. Matthew Prior – 18th Century poet. Wilfred Owen – early 20th Century. John Skelton – 16th Century – very short lines with lots of rhymes and a real bony jingle to his poems, called Skeltonics.

32. Line one of this stanza combines two poets: Jonathan Peale Bishop and Elizabeth Bishop. Line 2 refers to Dame Edith Sitwell. Lines 3 and 4 refer to Hilda Doolittle and Ezra Pound. All four are 20th Century poets.

33. Robert Bly got involved in the "Men's Movement," with his book, Iron John, and had men out in the woods beating drums.

34. Just being opinionated. Lowell gets a lot of respect these days. I don't much care for him.

35. MacLeish did say "A poem should not mean, but be."

36. George Herbert, early 17th Century, wrote poems on Christian themes, one of which compares something to a "box of sweets compacted."

37. Line two refers to Stephen Vincent Benet. Lines 3 and 4 have fun with Edna St. Vincent Millay.

38. John Crowe Ransom wrote several sober, ironic, but moving poems about dead children, the most famous being "Bells for John Whiteside's Daughter."

39. This is a stanza of "portmanteu'd" poets. Line one breaks up into John Ashbery, Berryman (John Berryman), Manly Hopkins (Gerard Manly Hopkins). Line two is Kit Marlowe (Christopher Marlowe), Lowell (Robert Lowell or James Russell Lowell or Amy Lowell -- Christ, what are families for! [Amy Lowell's most famous line is "Christ! What are patterns for!"]), Eliot (T. S. Eliot) and the 17th Cent. playwright, Thomas Otway. Line three is Sir Walter Raleigh, Leigh Hunt and (Louis) Untermeyer. Line four is Wallace Stevens and (Edna) St. Vincent Millay.

40. The poets referred to here: Jonas Very, Julia Ward Howe, Hugh Arthur Clough, etc. Steele is 18th Century, Greene is 16th – well, look up the names. (Peacock is best known for his fiction.)