Books: No Poet

Outside Westminster Abbey, while London police stood guard before locked doors, passersby saw a glint of light through stained-glass windows. Inside the Abbey, from behind a canvas screen in Poets' Corner, came the clanking of picks. Near the base of Edmund Spenser's monument gravediggers scooped up sand from beneath the stones, uncovered a lead coffin and evidences that two more bodies had been buried in the same grave.

Reason for this ghoulish hocus-pocus was that a minor Elizabethan historian of doubtful veracity once wrote that when Spenser was buried, a cluster of poets,...

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