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Tuesday, November 3, 1998 Published at 21:53 GMT


Emotional farewell to Ted Hughes

Ted Hughes told very few people about his cancer

    Go Fishing

    Join water, wade into underbeing
    Let brain mist into moist earth
    Ghost loosen downstream
    Gulp river and gravity

    Loose words


      In a touching tribute to Poet Laureate Ted Hughes, his own words accompanied him to his grave.

      Nobel Literature prize-winner Seamus Heaney read Mr Hughes' own poems, Go Fishing and The Day He Died, and told the 200 mourners at his funeral on Tuesday that his friend's death was "a rent in the veil of poetry".

      [ image: Nobel prize-winner Seamus Heaney read Dylan Thomas]
      Nobel prize-winner Seamus Heaney read Dylan Thomas
      Rain lashed down outside St Peter's Church in the Devon village of North Tawton as, at the request of Mr Hughes' second wife Carol, 49, Mr Heaney read Dylan Thomas's poem Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night.

      The mourners had been led into the granite church by Mrs Hughes, and Peter and Frieda, Mr Hughes' two grown-up children from his tragic marriage to American poet Sylvia Plath.

      The congregation at the 13th Century church, including many from the arts world, heard Mr Heaney describe how his friend had been "simply beloved" and "a tower of tenderness and strength".

      He added: "He was taken from us too soon."

      Mr Hughes, 68, died in a London hospital on Wednesday after an 18 month battle with liver cancer.

      [ image: Melvyn Bragg received the Whitbread Book Award on behalf of Ted Hughes in January]
      Melvyn Bragg received the Whitbread Book Award on behalf of Ted Hughes in January
      The address was given by the Rev Terence McCaughey, who had known the poet since they were fellow students at Cambridge University.

      Mr McCaughey, a teacher at Trinity College, Dublin, said friends, associates, fellow artists and neighbours who gathered in the church had "along the way been touched somehow, sometime by this remarkable man".

      "He had so much to say, and the world will be fertilised and enriched by what he wrote."

      Mr McCaughey added: "We have come to say thanks to him one last time."

      He also spoke of the poet's "vitality and exuberance".

      [ image: The poet's children from his marriage to Sylvia Plath were at the funeral]
      The poet's children from his marriage to Sylvia Plath were at the funeral
      But also, he "knew there was a time to be reticent in the use of words".

      The Rev Mark Butchers, Mr Hughes's local vicar, said they had gathered "to give thanks for what he gave the world through his poetry".

      Mr Hughes was appointed Poet Laureate in 1984 by the Queen.

      Earlier this month she awarded him the Order of Merit, an honour for distinguished achievement which is limited at any one time to 24 people.

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