The Ballad of English Literature

[Sung to the tune of "Land of Hope and Glory"]

Chaucer was a class traitor
Shakespeare hated the mob
Donne sold out a bit later
Sidney was a nob

Marlowe was an elitist
Ben Jonson was much the same
Bunyan was a defeatist
Dryden played the game

There's a sniff of reaction
About Alexander Pope
Sam Johnson was a Tory
And Walter Scott a dope

Coleridge was a right winger
Keats was lower middle class
Wordsworth was a cringer
But William Blake was a gas

Dickens was a reformist
Tennyson was a blue
Disraeli was mostly pissed
And nothing that Trollope said was true

Willy Yeats was a fascist
So were Eliot and Pound
Lawrence was a sexist
Virginia Woolf was unsound

There are only three names
To be plucked from this dismal set
Milton Blake and Shelley
Will smash the ruling class yet

Milton Blake and Shelley
Will smash the ruling class yet.


in Against the Grain, Essays by Terry Eagleton, Verso Books.

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212 pages / July 1986 / 9780860918417

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