selection, An Adder in June, in 1978. If Lay’s poetic inheritance is a Georgian style, he
nevertheless had a distinctive voice well worth hearing.
Further north, in MIDDLETON, lived MICHAEL HAMBURGER (1924-2007) with his
wife, poet ANNE BERESFORD. Hamburger was a poet, translator, critic and amateur
horticulturalist: his passion was fruit trees, especially rare apple trees, described by W.G.
Sebald on a visit in Rings of Saturn (see the section on Writers Who Visited Suffolk). His
was ‘a serious voice in an increasingly superficial age’. His family fled Hitler’s Germany in
1933, and after the war, which interrupted his Oxford studies, he entered academic life,
while also developing his poetry. In his obituary the Guardian said ‘his poetic voice was dark,
sometimes tragic, which put him out of step with the post-Beat era’. Ironically, he became
better known in England for his translations.
A famous poet who had no living connection with Suffolk but who is buried here in a
magnificent tomb in FRAMINGHAM CHURCH, is HENRY HOWARD, EARL OF
SURREY (1517-1547). He introduced blank verse to England and, with Sir Thomas
Wyatt, revitalised English poetry in the sixteenth century.
An unusual story is that of IVAN BLATNEY (1919-1990) who fled to England in 1948
after the Communists came to power in his native Czechoslovakia. Born in Brno he was one u
of the well-known figures in the Czech cultural avant garde before he arrived in England.
He worked for a while with the BBC and Radio Free Europe but when he resisted attempts
to bring him back to his native country, the Czech authorities denounced him as a ‘snivelling
poltroon’ and put out that he had died in the 1950s.
His mental health deteriorated and having been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, he
spent most of the rest of his life, all but forgotten in various psychiatric hospitals including t
St Clements Hospital IPSWICH. For a while staff in the psychiatric wards believed this
distinguished poet was simply deluded, but eventually Frances Meacher, an Englishwoman on
holiday to Czechoslovakia was asked by a friend of Blatney to visit him and took care of his
poetry manuscripts while becoming a good friend. Martin Thorp has translated many of his
poems. In 1977 his seventh volume of verse was published, and he was still writing poetry on
the day he died, in Colchester.
PETER HARDIMAN SCOTT (1920-1999), writer, distinguished BBC political
correspondent and poet, lived in BOXFORD. He jointly researched and wrote the original
Literary Suffolk leaflet on which this booklet is based, and as President of the Suffolk Poetry
Society did much to promote poetry and poets in the county. He published several volumes of
poetry including Where Shadows Fall and in ‘Words from Nowhere’ he describes the initial
literary process on which so much of the content of this booklet is based: “From nowhere
and strangely garbled the words come. In their own disguises, priest and pauper. Clowns
and gods, bearing myths, speaking and dumb.” The Suffolk Poetry Society produced an
anthology of poetry and a little prose which Peter was preparing at his death; it is entitled
Suffolk, A Celebration.
The novelist E.M. FORSTER (1879-1970) was fond of the ALDEBURGH region and
visited often, staying at the White Lion hotel on the front with his friends the Buckinghams.
He collaborated with Eric Crozier on the libretto for Benjamin Britten’s opera Billy Budd.
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