Great Britain: Piping Down

Everyone knows Ben Jonson, Tennyson and Wordsworth, but who ever heard of Nahum Tate, Laurence Eusden, and William Whitehead? All six men share the dignity of having been poets laureate of England, a tradition that goes back 350 years. According to the 17th and most recent laureate, John Masefield, this high post "is responsible for some of the world's worst literature." Masefield died last week at 88 at the country home in Abingdon where he spent most of his time. Fortunately, he had written much of his best poetry long before George V named him laureate in 1930 (in...

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