poets-cornerInteresting Literature brings a piece about Poets’ Corner in the south transept of Westminster Abbey — though I’m not sure the “fun facts” in their subtitle should really be the terminology used when discussing burial sites.

Oliver Goldsmith and Samuel Johnson visited Westminster Abbey together, and Boswell reports the latter’s speculations as to whether their fame would mingle with those interred in Poets’ Corner: “Forsitan et nostrum nomen miscebitur istis”. (If you want to follow up this reference, Boswell recounts it on 30 April 1773.) They both made it; Johnson is buried there, Goldsmith memorialized with a tablet and bust. Johnson wrote the Latin epitaph on Goldsmith’s memorial, claiming that “he would never consent to disgrace the walls of Westminster Abbey with an English inscription”. Sounds like he felt compelled to talk in Latin while there too.

Wikipedia, inevitably, has a list of all those buried in Poets’ Corner, as well as the second rank, represented only by a memorial. Philip Larkin, as reported by the BBC, is the latest poet to be enshrined. A sign of how far we’ve travelled far since Johnson’s day perhaps: that a poet famous for his use of the “f-word” is welcomed.

 

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