Monday, January 05, 2009

Who deserves to be in Poets' Corner?

Friends and family of the late Harold Pinter have apparently suggested that he deserves a memorial in the Poets' Corner of Westminster Abbey (see here). The rumour is that Pinter's "anti-religious" views may lead to the consideration that it would not be an appropriate gesture. Not to mention the fact, I expect, that he was a Jew. Are there any Jews in Westminster Abbey? Permanently, I mean ... I've been in there myself on one or two occasions.

Having read the article, I later came upon this poem:

A REFUSAL

Said the grave dean of Westminster:
Mine is the best minster
Seen in Great Britain,
As many have written:
So therefore I cannot
Rule here if I ban not
Such liberty-taking
As movements for making
Its grayness environ
The memory of Byron,

Which some are demanding
Who think them of standing,
But in my own viewing
Require some subduing
For tendering suggestions
On Abbey-wall questions
That must interfere here
With my proper sphere here,
And bring to disaster
This fane and its master,
Whose dict is but Christian
Though nicknamed Philistian.

A lax Christian charity -
No mental clarity
Ruling its movements
For fabric improvements -
Demands admonition
And strict supervision
When bent on enshrining
Rapscallions, and signing
Their names on God's stonework,
As if like His own work
Were their lucubrations:
And passed is my patience
That such a creed-scorner
(Not mentioning horner)
Should claim Poet's Corner.

'Tis urged that some sinners
Are here for worms' dinners
Already in person:
That he could not worsen
The walls by a name mere
With men of such fame here.
Yet nay; they but leaven
The others in heaven
In just due proportion,
While more mean distortion.
"Twill next be expected
That I get erected
To Shelley a tablet
In some niche or gablet.
Then - what makes my skin burn -
That I ensconce Swinburne!

The author of this poem is a gentleman by the name of Thomas Hardy. Where is he buried? His heart is allegedly buried in Stinsford, Dorset. His ashes were interred in Westminster Abbey, in the Poets' Corner.

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