The Van Dyke, the Van Winkle, the Maltese, the Wandering Jim and the Garibaldi Elongated.
May 8, 2009 7:39 AM   Subscribe

Poets Ranked by Beard Weight. Excerpted and abridged from The Language of the Beard, originally circulated by The Torchbearer Society, London, 1913. Commentary by Gilbert Alter-Gilbert.


10 Very very weak
18 Very weak
26 Fairly weak
34 Somewhat heavy
42 Heavy
50 Very heavy
58 Very very heavy
posted by Sailormom (9 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

Spoiler: the heaviest beard belongs to Samuel Morse, with a gravity of 58.

Morse painted (and invented Morse code), but you don't hear much about his poetry.
posted by box at 8:37 AM on May 8, 2009

Morse painted (and invented Morse code), but you don't hear much about his poetry.

I wonder if there is some confusion going on between Samuel Finley Brown Morse (19th c. inventor) and Samuel French Morse (20th c. poet)?

Also, I am humming the title of "Samuel Morse: Inquisitive Boy‎" to the tune of "Excitable Boy"
posted by aught at 8:49 AM on May 8, 2009

This is hilarious. I admit that I have suspicions that it isn't real. I thought Journey Round My Skull was a fairly serious blog, so I don't know if I'm wildly off base or doing the equivalent of asking whether something in The Onion is a joke. I find it odd that an English text of 1913 describes a beard as "claus-esque" and that whole Samuel Finlay Brown Morse and Samuel French Morse thing seems weird. And I kind find any independent mentions of Upton Uxbridge Underwood or his Language of the Beard anywhere.
posted by Kattullus at 9:15 AM on May 8, 2009

Don't know the blog, but yeah, definitely leaning heavily toward not-real.
posted by box at 9:38 AM on May 8, 2009

Note--the image at the top of the article is the cover image from Reginald Reynolds' wonderful 1949 treatise on beards throughout history-- "Beards: Their Social Standing, Religious Involvements, Decorative Possibilities, and Value in Offence and Defence Through the Ages." Reynolds answers, sort of, in a roundabout way, that age-old question whether there exists "some necessary correlation between hippophagy, pogonotrophy and perhaps paganism." Highly recommended.
posted by bepe at 9:38 AM on May 8, 2009

Obviously a joke, but I too recommend the Reynolds book, which is a lot of fun.
posted by languagehat at 9:53 AM on May 8, 2009

Having read through old periodicals from that era it's not really all that far outside the bounds of what could've been written then. But yeah... after writing the comment I felt a bit silly for even entertaining the idea it might be real. I guess the seriousness I ascribed to Journey Round My Skull threw me.
posted by Kattullus at 11:17 AM on May 8, 2009

Interestingly enough, Reginald Reynolds also edited a collection of the works of various British pamphleteers from the French Revolution through the 1930s. I've ordered a copy (partly for the tiny chance that there actually is an Underwood pamphlet, and the reasoning that this volume, if any, would be sure to have it, but more for the other interesting things sure to be found there) and will report back my findings.
posted by bepe at 11:54 AM on May 8, 2009

No Underwood pamphlets included in the Reynolds edition, sadly and not surprisingly, but many other gems there which will no doubt provide much in the way of real-life oddities.
posted by bepe at 8:45 PM on May 18, 2009

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