Poets Ranked by Beard Weight

alex atkins bookshelf booksPoets Ranked by Beard Weight, a leaflet privately published in England in 1913 by Upton Uxbridge Underwood (1881-1937), is a classic of Edwardian esoterica. Like his other works focused on pogonology (the study of beards), The Language of the Beard and Whiskers of the World, Poets Ranked by Bear Weight is extremely rare and consequently prized by bibliophiles — whether bearded or clean-shaven. Underwood, who wore a hideous variation of the Hulihee (think of the Wolverine’s beard, with long extensions at the base of the jaw that look like tusks made of hair), developed the Underwood Pogonometric Index (UPI) that ranges from 6 (very, very weak beard) to 60 (a perfect beard). Underwood believed that the beard made the bard, that is to say, there was a direct correlation between personal appearance and artistic proficiency. The higher the score, the more “poetic gravity” that the particular poet possessed. 

Underwood believed that a beard possessed an “odylic” (or “od”) force that was conveyed through a human by means of a nervous fluid, which in turn imbues the poet’s beard with “noetic emanations” and an “ectoplasmic aura.” Further, Underwood believed that the od force generated magnetic waves that could be measured by special laboratory equipment. Undoubtedly, if Underwood were alive today, he would be a perfect candidate for Scientology. The readings gave rise to his UPI scale; the average bearded individual had a score of 10-24. 

Here are the poets, ranked by beard weight (poet’s name, type of beard, followed by beard weight according to the UPI scale):

Walt Whitman (Hibernator): 22

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (Dutch elongated): 24

Sir Walter Raleigh (Van Dyck): 27

Henry David Thoreau (Wandering Jim): 29

Lord Alfred Tennyson (Maltese): 33

James Russell Lowell (Queen’s Brigade): 34

Dante Gabriel Rossetti (Italian False Goatee): 38

John Greenleaf Whittier (Full Velutinous): 38

Edwin Markham (Box): 39

Sidney Lanier (Spade): 41

John Burroughs (Claus-esque): 43

William Cullen Bryant (Van Winkle): 43

William Ernest Henley (Spatulate Imperial): 47

Joaquin Miller (Forked Elongated): 51

Samuel Morse (Garibaldi Elongated): 58

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For further reading: Poets Ranked by Beard Weight (The Commemorative Edition) by Upton Uxbridge Underwood


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