Major English Classicist
and minor poet. He is known in Classics
for many text editions, and for editing them 'as they were meant to be written'. In poetry
he is generally known for his To An Athlete Dying Young
, contained in the collection 'A Shropshire Lad
'. He was also a closeted homosexual
, with the typically early British
attitude that this was something not quite shameful
, but to be kept private and not involved with his public image, typified by men like Noel Coward
. This has most recently been explored in a play by Tom Stoppard
called 'The Invention
His academic work is invaluable due to a refined insight into the subtleties of literature, stemming from his own work as a poet, while his poetry is heavily influenced by classical forms and themes. He represents in this aspect T.S. Eliot's ideal critic. It can perhaps best be described as charming and witty rather than truly brilliant. A sample, and my personal favourite, is the following, untitled:
Oh, when I was in love with you,
Then I was clean and brave,
And miles around the wonder grew,
How well did I behave.
And now the fancy passes by,
And nothing will remain,
And miles around they'll say that I
Am quite myself again.
He was a man of profound learning, refined wit, and gentlemanly conduct. A Britisher to the core.