Presidents and Their Poetry

In classier election-related news, Elizabeth Harball tells us all about what poems presidents like (or claim to like) reading.

Woodrow Wilson was famously fond of reading and writing limericks. When the future president was speaking to a large crowd in Jersey City in 1908, a man heckled him and shouted, “You ain’t no beaut.” Wilson responded with this limerick by Anthony Euwer:

For beauty I am not a star;
There are others handsomer, far;
But my face, I don’t mind it,
For I am behind it;
’Tis the people in front that I jar.

The incident received so much press that the limerick is often misattributed to Wilson.

Amongst other tidbits, George Washington was much enamored of Phillis Wheatley, of whom Henry “Skip” Gates, Jr. has said really fascinating and thought-provoking things which everyone should read in full.