LETTER: Placename poetry

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Sir: In matching poets to places ("England's place is in our poetry", 29 December), Angela Lambert miscasts G. K. Chesterton as "the great Sussex poet" on the strength of a few topographical references. "Wessex poet" would be a more apt descriptio n for his Ballad of the White Horse, the action of which roves throughout the Western counties. The great Sussex poet was Chesterton's literary twin, Hilaire Belloc, who wrote many poems picked out with such lines as: As I was lifting over Down, A winter's night to Petworth town; or I never get between the pines, But I smell the Sussex air.

As for places which Ms Lambert could not find celebrated by poets, Swinburne hailed Bath as "England's Florence" and Southey remarked (admittedly in prose) that: "Probably in no other age or country was there ever such an astonishing display of human ingenuity as may be found in Birmingham", words proudly displayed on an inscription in the city's markets.

Early Victorian Manchester is depicted in Richard Baines' lines: In Manchester, this famous town, What great improvements have been made, sirs; In 50 years, 'tis mighty grown, All owing to success in trade sirs... The plough and harrow are now forgot, sirs; 'Tis coals and cotton boil the pot, sirs.

Yours sincerely, DAVID CRAWFORD Bromley, Kent

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