Whether it was partly due to professional hazard (years of rejection, self-imposed seclusion, substance abuse, complex and clandestine personal relationships - some of those dudes make contemporary man look saintly) or they were just plain unlucky, it's curious how many poets through the ages have met an entirely hapless end. I made a list once.
- Euripides, the Greek playwright, was mauled to death by a pack of wild dogs in 406BC.
- According to Pliny the Elder, Athenian poet Aeschylus was killed by a falling tortoise dropped by an eagle in 456BC.
- Italian poet Dante Alighieri fell ill and died just as he completed The Divine Comedy in 1321. Doh.
- Christopher Marlow, rumoured to be an Elizabethan secret agent, was killed in a pub brawl in 1593.
- Sir Francis Bacon died in 1626 of suffocation caused by a severe chill, after stuffing a chicken with snow to test his theory of refrigeration.
- Having given away his entire fortune, Leo Tolstoy froze to death in a railway station in 1910.
- WS Gilbert drowned in an English lake trying to save a damsel in distress in 1911.
- In 1932 Hart Crane, a 'pederastic alcoholic' in love with a Danish merchant mariner, drowned himself by jumping off a steamboat into the Gulf of Mexico.
- William Burroughs accidentally killed his wife when he tried to shoot an apple off her head in Mexico in 1951.
- Hilaire Belloc died in 1953 from burns he sustained after stumbling into a fireplace.
- American Surrealist poet Frank O'Hara was killed by an errant beach buggy in 1966.
- Playwright Tennessee Williams was at home in New York when he choked to death on a bottle cap in 1983.
I'm sorry to say this persistent bout of fever has not conceived anything close to a blinding flash of brilliance. All it's produced so far is sweaty hair, a clammy glow and endless spontaneous rounds of rug-up-strip-off-rug-up-strip-off.
And a frustratingly lean word count for this week.
Cautionary Tales for Children by Hilaire Belloc. Hmmm. "Don't stand too close to the flame" ?