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Tuesday, 4 December 2007

One In Ten

I recently made a list, for fun, of the most popular 20th century (deceased) British poets. These had to be ones whose work had truly entered the public imagination, and language, and were almost universally famous. The list was Kipling, Owen, Eliot, Auden, Dylan Thomas, Larkin, and Hughes. I then noticed that they corresponded more or less directly with decades (that is 00-10, 10s, 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s and 60s). I suppose Hardy, Brooke and Betjeman might wreck this, but who else? I don't think this list represents the most innovative, or even enjoyable, poets - but it did suggest to me what I had long suspected - the public cannot endure too much poetry. For them, one (or so) poet every decade is just about right. The Americans tend to get two in each decade...
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