Lamb wrote a dissertation on roast pig.
Hogg and Suckling did not. Wordsworth
Was not what you would call an economical writer.
Wilde tamed London. Pater was his literary father.
Pound earned a small but steady income from his writing.
Ping-pong was Tennyson's favorite indoor sport.
No one else had done what Donne did in verse:
Erotic lyrics in a religious idiom, and vice-versa.
Racine's roots went deep into France's classical soil.
The Iliad was Homer's first grand slam.
The Spanish Tragedy exemplifies Kyd's mature style.
Swift wrote slowly. Pope pontificated.
Frost wondered whether the world would end in ice.
Moore was less wordy than Longfellow, whose short poems
Are his best. Peacock strutted. Bishop
Preferred Rio to Rome and the Vatican.
Ford couldn't drive a car. Neither, of course, could
Austen. As a child Woolf adored the story of
Little red riding hood. West died in California.
Mann loved women. Hardy endured.
-- David Lehman
From The Big Question by David Lehman (University of Michigan Press, 1995).
Originally in The New Republic.