Twenty poets have held the post of Laureate
Since John Dryden was the first to have the honour
Bestowed way back in sixteen sixty eight
Thomas Shadwell came next, a political choice
Chosen to give the Protestants a voice.
Not much of a thought provoker
His work was mainly mediocre.
(not helped by the fact he was a prolific opium smoker)
Tate was next, he was fairly bright
Remembered mainly for his carol about ‘Shepherds watching
their flocks by night’.
With the arrival of Nicholas Rowe the post changed somehow
Less political now was the aim
More to raise the profile of the ruling sovereign
Laurence Eusden and Colly Cibber did the minimum required
At best it was said their work was uninspired
Whitehead, Wharton and Henry James Pye each graced the office
But sadly to say didn’t live up to their promise.
Robert Southey stepped in when Sir Walter Scott declined
And for thirty years did the job he was assigned
William Wordsworth the oldest accepted under duress
After all, at 73 he could do without the stress
Alfred Lord Tennyson, well what can you say,
His biggest success we still quote from today.
Hugely popular a great impact was made
Remember from school ‘The Charge of the Light Brigade’
To Austin and Bridges we don’t give much thought
Nothing of significance to say or report.
John Masefield, now here’s an achiever
Mostly renowned for his popular ‘Sea Fever’
Cecil Day Lewis embraced the post and was quite enthusiastic
His works tended towards the melancholy or romantic.
Sir John Betjeman, accessible and humorous
His ‘Bombs on Slough’ appealed to the masses.
Ted Hughes, Yorkshire born, brooding, introspective
Often misunderstood, but generally respected.
Andrew Motion, first Poet Laureate to retire or be retired,
(not counting John Dryden who was fired)
Brought a breath of fresh air to a post he was unsure of at first
Forward thinking, promoted poetry among the young, tried to create a thirst.
Carol Ann Duffy, the first woman Poet Laureate in history, takes up the post
for ten years.
She’s claiming her sherry, so it’s bottoms up, cheers.
So folks, a new face – watch this space.