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Poet Laureate

From 1619 the Poet Laureate received as payment a Butt (720 bottles) of Sherry from the Crown. The custom ceased from 1790 until 1986 when the Sherry Shippers of Spain revived the custom for Ted Hughes, to mark the centuries old link between Sherry and the United Kingdom. 

Carol Ann Duffy, 22nd Poet Laureate and first women to hold the title, was invited to sign her Butt of Sherry in Jerez, where she wrote this poem.




Who wouldn't feel favoured, at the end of a week's labour, to receive as part-wages

a pale wine

that puts the mouth in mind of the sea ...


and not gladly be kissed

by gentle William Shakespeare's lips, the dark, raisiny taste of his song;

bequeathed to his thousand daughters and sons,

the stolen wines of the Spanish sun...


or walk the cool bodegas' aisles - where flor and oxygen

grow talented  in fragrances and flavours ¬

to sniff, sip,  spit, swallow, savour...

Carol Ann Duffy

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