Saturday, 27 March 2010

Ted Hughes and Poets' Corner

The news that Ted Hughes is to have a memorial plaque in Poets' Corner in Westminster Abbey is very welcome, though I can't imagine why there should have been any doubt in the first place.

Ted Hughes (1930 - 1998) was Poet Laureate from 1984 until his death from cancer in 1998.   He is one of the greatest of English 20th century poets, his poetry darkly redolent of his native Yorkshire and his close connection with the land.

At his memorial service in Westminster Abbey, Seamus Heaney, who gave an address, said:

"No death outside my immediate family has left me feeling more bereft.  No death in my lifetime has hurt poets more.  He was a tower of tenderness and strength, a great arch under which the least of poetry's children could enter and feel secure. His creative powers were, as Shakespeare said, still crescent. By his death, the veil of poetry is rent and the walls of learning broken."

I knew Ted Hughes fairly well, and regard it as a privilege to have done so.   He wore his fame lightly and was a kind and thoughtful man, not to say excellent company.   His great passion was fishing.

Poets' Corner has been the repository of memorials to our poets since Geoffrey Chaucer was buried there in 1400, and among others the following are commemorated there:

John Betjeman, Robert Browning, Thomas Campbell, William Congreve, Charles Dickens,
John Dryden, John Gay, Thomas Hardy, Dr. Samuel Johnson, Rudyard Kipling,
John Masefield, Edmund Spenser, Alfred Lord Tennyson

Ted Hughes will join them in 2011,

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