An Alphabet of Celebrities

A poem by Oliver Herford

A's Albert Edward, well meaning but flighty,
Who invited King Arthur, the blameless and mighty,
To meet Alcibiades and Aphrodite.

B is for Bernhardt, who fails to awaken
Much feeling in Bismarck, Barabbas, and Bacon.

C is Columbus, who tries to explain
How to balance an egg--to the utter disdain
Of Confucius, Carlyle, Cleopatra, and Cain.

D's for Diogenes, Darwin, and Dante,
Who delight in the dance Of a Darling Bacchante.

E is for Edison, making believe
He's invented a clever contrivance for Eve,
Who complained that she never could laugh in her sleeve.

F is for Franklin, who fearfully shocks
The feelings of Fenelon, Faber, and Fox.

G is Godiva, whose great bareback feat
She kindly but firmly declines to repeat,
Though Gounod and Goldsmith implore and entreat.

H is for Handel, who pours out his soul
Through the bagpipes to Howells and Homer, who roll
On the floor in an ecstasy past all control.

I is for Ibsen, reciting a play
While Irving and Ingersoll hasten away.

J is for Johnson, who only says "Pish!"
To Jonah, who tells him his tale of a fish.

K is the Kaiser, who kindly repeats
Some original verses to Kipling and Keats.

L is Lafontaine, who finds he's unable
To interest Luther and Liszt in his fable,
While Loie continues to dance on the table.

M is Macduff, who's prevailed upon Milton
And Montaigne and Manon to each try a kilt on.

N is Napoleon, shrouded in gloom,
With Nero, Narcissus, and Nordau, to whom
He's explaining the manual of arms with a broom.

O is for Oliver, casting aspersion
On Omar, that awfully dissolute Persian,
Though secretly longing to join the diversion.

P is for Peter, who hollers "No! No!"
Through the keyhole to Paine, Paderewski, and Poe.

Q is the Queen, so noble and free--
For further particulars look under V.

R's Rubenstein, playing that old thing in F
To Rollo and Rembrandt, who wish they were deaf.

S is for Swinburne, who, seeking the true, the good, and the beautiful, visits the Zoo,
Where he chances on Sappho and Mr. Sardou,
And Socrates, all with the same end in view.

T is for Talleyrand toasting Miss Truth,
By the side of her well, in a glass of vermouth,
And presenting Mark Twain as the friend of his youth.

U is for Undine, pursuing Ulysses
And Umberto, who flee her damp, death-dealing kisses.

V is Victoria, noble and true--
For further particulars look under Q.

W's Wagner, who sang and played lots for Washington, Wesley, and good Doctor Watts.
His prurient plots pained Wesley and Watts,
But Washington said he "enjoyed them in spots."

X is Xantippe, who's having her say,
And frightening the army of Xerxes away.

Y is for Young, the great Mormon saint,
Who thinks little Yum Yum and Yvette so quaint,
He has to be instantly held in restraint.

Z is for Zola, presenting La Terre
To Zenobia the brave and Zuleika the fair,
Whose blushes they artfully conceal with their hair.

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