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The BBC website has a new feature asking the UK to vote for its favorite poet.

I got to thinking: Which of my three favorite poets would I choose?

Right away I could see I'd have to strike off Neruda, as all the poets listed were British or Irish. But surely the other two, pillars of English poetry, would be there. And if I really wanted a third, I could use W. H. Davis.

Of course, I have yet to see any of Davis' works in a single British bookstore, so I wasn't surprised not to find him on the list. Do the British exclude him because he spent so many years in Canada and the U.S., despite being Welsh and spending the latter half of his life in England? Or have they simply forgotten this great voice?

Surely, the other two poets would be on the list, though. Right?

No. Apparently, the committee that narrowed the list of poets down to thirty did not deem Housman or Shakespeare worthy of their list. Inconceivable.

And thus, I did not vote. I cannot take seriously a list of the British Isles' thirty greatest poets that does not include Housman and Shakespeare.


( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 22nd, 2009 05:28 pm (UTC)
Agreed, but these things are nearly always stupid.

I'd grandfather out Shakespeare just because, well, he's frickin' Shakespeare -- who can compete? So my vote? Tennyson or Yeats.
May. 22nd, 2009 05:38 pm (UTC)
IMO, you can't grandfather Shakespeare out of a list that includes Donne and Milton. Simply preposterous!
May. 22nd, 2009 05:41 pm (UTC)
You never linked to the page, and I wasn't sufficiently motivated to search for it myself, I'm afraid.

But yes, that's silly. Even if you look at Shakespeare as a dramaturge rather than a poet (an iffy proposition in any case), there's still the sonnets and the two longer poems to contend with -- no mean legacy even considered apart from the plays.
May. 23rd, 2009 09:23 am (UTC)
That is really astounding. You have to wonder what on earth they were thinking!!! Bleh!
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )

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