I can’t seem to stick to Fridays, but here’s a poem for last week anyway. The author was, in his day, one of the most feared critics, influential poets and respected classical scholars in the world; who was he? I’ll put the answer in a comment for those who don’t know, can’t guess and don’t like waiting.
Purple William; or, The Liar’s Doom
The hideous hue which William is
Was not originally his;
So long as William told the truth,
He was a usual-coloured youth.
He now is purple. One fine day
His tender father chanced to say,
“What colour is a whelp, and why?”
“Purple,” was William’s false reply.
“Pooh,” said his Pa, “You silly elf,
“It’s no more purple than yourself.”
“Dismiss the notion from your head.”
“I, too, am purple,” William said.
—And he was purple. With a yell
His mother off the sofa fell,
Exclaiming, “William’s purple! Oh!”
William replied, “I told you so.”
His parents, who could not support
The pungency of this retort,
Died with a simultaneous groan.
The purple orphan was alone.
The surprising answer is, AE Housman. His comic verse is collected in “Unkind to Unicorns”, a copy of which I will one day acquire; sadly, there is only a small selection in the “Collected Poems and Selected Prose” (Penguin, 1988).