Godmother of the Salmon

John Bayley

  • ‘Rain-Charm for the Duchy’ and other Laureate Poems by Ted Hughes
    Faber, 64 pp, £12.99, June 1992, ISBN 0 571 16605 9

The worst of being dubbed Laureate today would not be the task of composing poems for royal and public occasions, but trying to make them sound like oneself, or even more so. Auden had no problem. When the GPO commissioned him to write some verses about the Royal Mail he was away at once, synergistically melding the public requirement into his own private fantasy, so that each took off from the other:

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