A fellow poet pays tribute to Marvell of Hull

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THE CITY fathers of Hull, which teems with poetic credentials, asked one of its more recent literary exports, the Poet Laureate, Andrew Motion, to help to commemorate one of his finest predecessors yesterday.

The city, in its 700th anniversary year, is remembering Andrew Marvell, and Mr Motion unveiled a statue to a fellow literary son of the city.

Though Marvell didn't know it, he was assigning the River Humber to the lines of one of the world's most famous love poems when he plugged it in "To His Coy Mistress". Thou by the Indian Ganges side/ Should'st Rubies find: I by the Tide/ Of Humber would complain.

There were few other mentions of his home in his poetic dispatches but Marvell also served as an MP from 1660 to his death in 1678. Mr Motion was at the university from 1976 to 1980. Another Laureate, Philip Larkin, was his tutor.

The first verse of "To His Coy Mistress" has been etched on the marble statue of Marvell, erected in 1866 but refurbished and moved beside Holy Trinity Church near his old Grammar School in Market Square.

The statue's unveiling coincided with the Hull700 Literature Festival, which also marks out its literary past. Mr Motion said that at Oxford students who thought they may botch their exams were allowed to do a mini- thesis. He wrote on Marvell.

"I mention that only as proof of my affection for him, which goes back a very long way," he said. "I came to Hull so I could stand in Larkin's shadow and learn from him."

Hull cannot be accused of overlooking Marvell. The old corporation gave pounds 50 towards his funeral expenses when he died of a fever in London.

The city's literature festival, which comprises more than 60 events, runs until Sunday. For festival details ring 01482 223344