Many great poets have been inspired by religious locations and stone memorials: Shelley penned a sonnet about the crumbling remains of a statue to the tyrant Ozymandias; Larkin wrote about an Arundel tomb found in Chichester Cathedral; Wordsworth spent many weeks at Tintern Abbey, trying to come up with a rhyme for Tintern—and, indeed, abbey.
Yesterday, I found myself standing beside the grave of the American poet Sylvia Plath. She’s buried in a churchyard just across the valley from my house. Sylvia married local Yorkshireman and future Poet Laureate Ted Hughes, who presumably chose her final resting place after her suicide in 1963.
I’m not a poetic man, but, as I was looking down at Sylvia’s grave, the Muse Thalia grabbed me by the nuts and moved me to verse:
The poet named Sylvia Plath
Was composing a poem in the bath.
Her husband, Ted Hughes,
Was far from amused:
“Tha’s wet all t’ coal, tha daft lass!”
How long before Calderdale has its second Poet Laureate?
See also: Julian Date’s tribute to Ted Hughes