Poem: An Alphabet

A  is an Agnostic dissecting a frog,

B  was a Buddhist who had been a dog,

C  was a Christian, a Christist I mean,

D  was the Dog which the Buddhist had been,

E  is for Ethics that grow upon trees,

F  for St. Francis who preached to the fleas,

G  is for God which is easy to spell,

H  is for Haeckel and also for Hell,

I  is for Incas now commonly dead,

J  is for Jesuit under the bed,

K  is the letter for Benjamin Kidd,
The Angels and Devils said don’t but he did

L  Louis the Ninth who unlike the Eleventh,
Was a much better man than King Edward the Seventh.

M  is for Man, by the way, what is Man?

N  is for Nunquam who’ll tell if he can,

O  is for Om about which I won’t trouble you,

P  for the Pope and P.W.W. (1)

Q  is the Quaker quiescent in quod,

R  is for Reason, a primitive God, 

S  is for Superman, harmless but fat,

T  is a Theosophist losing his hat,

U  the Upanishads, clever but slight,

V  is a Virtuous Man Killing Beit, (2) 

W  is for Wesley who banged with his fist,

X  for King Xerxes, a monotheist,

Y  is for You who depraved as you are,
Are Lord of Creation and Son of a Star.

Z  Zarathustra who couldn’t take stout,
He made war on the weak and they banged him out.

~G.K. Chesterton


(1) P.W.W. was P.W. Wilson, a colleague of Chesterton’s on The Daily News.

(2) Alfred Beit was a Hamburg-born financier (reputedly the world’s richest man) whose wealth came from South Africa and whom Chesterton loathed. He is the subject of this clerihew by Bentley:

"Mr Alfred Beit
Screamed suddenly in the night.
When they asked him why
He made no reply."