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Final Warning [Feb. 8th, 2018|09:07 pm]

I was surprised to learn of the death of poet Jenny Joseph from the obituary in Saturday's Guardian. Mostly I learn of these things from other sources, whether from the internet or the radio news, before the Guardian catches up. (And she died at the beginning of January, so it's not as if the Guardian had rushed into print).

This isn't the grievance of a fan. I know - or rather, before I read that obituary, I knew - only one thing about Ms. Joseph, which is that she wrote Warning ("When I am an old woman I shall wear purple / With a red hat which doesn't go, and doesn't suit me."). This isn't, as I had misremembered, "the Nation's favourite poem,", but it did top a poll to find the Nation's favourite post-war poem, which I would have thought was enough to earn her a mention on the six o' clock news.

This sent me off on a merry search, to find out what the Nation's Favourite Poem actually is. I'd have bet on Daffodils, and I'd have been wrong: a 1995 BBC poll seems to be the basis for most of the lists, and it puts If top. (Daffodils is 5th, Warning 22nd, just above Sea Fever...). From this I think we can deduce something about the age of people who participate in BBC poetry polls. Another poll declared T.S. Eliot the Nation's favourite poet, though I infer that this was achieved by getting the great and the good to champion a favourite, so that the vote is coloured by the popularity of the advocate.

It's all very mysterious.

This entry cross-posted from Dreamwidth: comments always welcome, at either location.