Seamus Heaney led the tributes on Tuesday 6th December at the dedication of a new memorial to the Poet Laureate Ted Hughes in Poets’ Corner at Westminster Abbey. Heaney who gave the Address at the ceremony said that ‘a great poet, a great soul now has his proper place and due.’
Over 300 people attended the event including his widow, Carol Hughes, his daughter, Frieda Hughes, as well as the poets and writers Simon Armitage, Blake Morrison, Sir Andrew Motion, Michael Murpurgo and Graham Swift.
Nobel Laureate Heaney unveiled the memorial stone, which sits in the floor of Poets’ Corner, at the foot of the memorial to TS Eliot, Hughes’ mentor and Faber & Faber publisher. The memorial has an extract from Ted Hughes’ That Morning from his collection of River poems: “So we found the end of our journey, So we stood alive in the river of light, Among the creatures of light, creatures of light.”
The Very Reverend Dr John Hall, Dean of Westminster who dedicated the memorial thanked the poet in his prayers for his “prophetic voice” and ‘imagination, flair and creativity, and zeal for life.’
The Lord Evans of Temple Guiting CBE, former Chairman of Faber & Faber, read an extract from a letter to Sylvia Plath, October 1956. Heaney and the actress Juliet Stevenson each read three of Hughes’ poems; Full Moon and Little Frieda, Anniversary and Where I Sit Writing My Letter (Juliet Stevenson) and Some Pike for Nicholas, For The Duration and That Morning (Seamus Heaney). Daniel Huws, poet and author, read In Memory of Ted Hughes by RS Thomas.
Carol Hughes laid a bouquet of flowers and herbs from the garden of their North Tawton home in Devon.
The memorial, made of Kirkstone Green Slate and measuring 76cm by 63cm, has been designed and carved by the Devon stonemason Ronald Parsons, who carved the stone whilst listening to recordings of Hughes reading his poems.
The full inscription reads:
TED HUGHES OM 1930 -1998
So we found the end of our journey
So we stood alive in the river of light
Among the creatures of light, creatures of light
The decision to place memorials in Westminster Abbey is made by the Dean of Westminster, The Very Reverend Dr John Hall who carefully considers the views of a range of interested parties before reaching a decision.