If I were to die thinking that I’d written three poems that people might read after me, I would feel that I hadn’t lived in vain. Great poets might expect the whole body of their work, but most of us – well, I would settle for a handful.
I’m not precisely saying that a really good board meeting at the MLA (Museums, Libraries and Archives Coucil) makes me want to go and write poetry, but there is a pleasure in doing that sort of thing well.
I’ve always thought that the balance between the side of my mind that knows what it is doing and the side that really hasn’t got a clue has to be carefully maintained because if you write too knowingly then you get chilly, and if you write too unknowingly you write bollocks that nobody else can understand.
Well, it’s a badge of honour for any self-respecting poet to be criticized by Auberon Waugh. But in a lot of ways my poems are very conventional, and it’s no big deal for me to write a poem in either free verse or strict form; modern poets can, and do, do both.
But Wordsworth is the poet I admire above all others.
I am writing more than I have ever done. My life has come back to me in the most extraordinary way.
If people connect me with the Romantics in general, they probably connect me most with Keats. But Wordsworth is the poet I admire above all others.