Leading article: Spitting mad

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W H Auden was one of the greatest poets of the 20th century, so says the BBC website. How odd, then, that our national broadcaster has decided to pass over his centenary next year, particularly in the light of the great flummery it made over that of John Betjeman, whom many consider a lesser poet. Odd too that the Royal Mail has passed up the chance to issue a commemorative stamp when generations of schoolchildren were first excited by the cadences of poetry thanks to Auden's TV-film poem "Night Mail". True, the poet needs no epitaph beyond his own haiku: "Thoughts of his own death,/like the distant roll/of thunder at a picnic." But younger readers, who sought him out after hearing his mordant "Stop all the clocks" poem read in the movie Four Weddings and a Funeral, might like to have seen him eulogised. They have no gun, the Beeb should remember, but they can spit.

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