Leigh Hunt (God rest his overprecious soul)
awoke. His room was peopled by a whole
committeeful of publishers and critics
shouting the odds on poets and poetics.
- Milton for number 2 if Shakespeare's first,
Chaucer or Byron next? - About to burst
with curiosity, Leigh shouted - What's
this all about? They answered - There are lots
of poets but our task is to decide
the top 100 names. Puffed up with pride,
Leigh asked - And do I feature near the top?
They laughed so hard he feared they'd never stop.
Quite undeterred, Leigh thought - The swines, I'll show 'em
and set to work next day to write a poem.
A century passed. By way of an addendum
to Leigh's sad tale, we held a referendum -
The Nation's Favourite Poems, where we see
Abou Ben Adhem, safe at 23.