As I came down into the Place of Spain,
Above the motors tooting in the streets
I heard a voice that asked, “Well, who was Keats?”
In the best accent of Nebraska’s plain.
A thin but rigid female, who in vain
Perused her Baedeker’s close-printed sheets,
Answered: “An Irish Poet,” scattering sweets
Of information to the Vast Inane.

Who was he?     A voice, forgotten in some quarters
Apparently.     The mortal lyric cry
Stilled by the house where the man came to die;
A lost identity of long ago;
Music and love quenched by the many waters.
Who was he?     Do the critics really know?

From Guinea-Fowl and Other Poultry (Harper & Brothers, 1927) by Leonard Bacon. Copyright © 1927 by Harper & Brothers. This poem is in the public domain.