C. Day-Lewis is buried in St. Michael's Churchyard, Stinsford, Dorset,
Also buried here is Thomas Hardy.
poetry was greatly influenced by Hardy - hence his desire to be buried
Gravestone of Cecil Day-Lewis
Photograph by David Conway
Day-Lewis was educated at Sherborne and Wadham
College, Oxford. While at Oxford he encountered W.H.Auden
and became part of the group of left wing poets. In particular, he
is linked with Louis MacNeice
and Stephen Spender; the four poets are often referred to jointly as
Day-Lewis' name is also synonymous with
Pylon Poetry. In
fact, in his poem addressed to Auden, Look west, Wystan, lone flyers he referred to both
pylons and skyscrapers.
After leaving Oxford he worked as a school
teacher and was active in left wing politics - joining the Communist
Party in 1936. During this decade he also began to write detective
stories under the pen-name Nicholas Blake, featuring the detective Nigel Strangeways.
In 1951 he was appointed Professor of Poetry at Oxford University,
serving until 1956. Then in 1968 he became Poet Laureate after the death of John
Day-Lewis was an inveterate womaniser and had
extra-marital relationships with a number of women including the model
Jane Howard and the novelist A,S. Byatt. The actor, Daniel Day-Lewis was
his son by his second wife Jill Balcon. His first wife was Mary King,
the daughter of one of the masters at Sherborne.
His poetry collections include: A Time to Dance (1935),
Overtures to Death (1938) and Poems in Wartime (1940).
Day-Lewis also under took a number of translations of Virgil including:
The Aeneid, The Eclogues and Georgics.
Later in life he became an increasingly public figure - sitting on
many committees, delivering lectures and making broadcasts. His work become
less political and more concerned with pastoral and personal themes.
Today unfortunately, his work is not held in the same regard as that of
Auden or MacNeice. He was refused a plaque in 'Poets' Corner', Westminster Abbey.