John Heath-Stubbs, 88; British Poet and Translator

Associated Press
Wednesday, December 27, 2006

John Heath-Stubbs, a British poet and translator who used classical mythology as an inspiration for his verse, died Dec. 26. He was 88.

The 1973 winner of the Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry died at the Athlone House Nursing Home in west London, the facility said. The cause of death was not announced.

Mr. Heath-Stubbs's works included poetry, plays, criticism and translations, including "The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam" with Peter Avery in 1979 and his own epic poem, "Artorius: A Heroic Poem in Four Books and Eight Episodes," published in 1973.

Other works included 1969's "Satires and Epigrams" and "The Immolation of Aleph," published in 1985.

A close friend, Guthrie McKie, said Mr. Heath-Stubbs, who slowly lost his eyesight and went completely blind in 1978, had been diagnosed with lung cancer this year.

In a 1993 interview with a British newspaper, Mr. Heath-Stubbs said the loss of his sight did not detract from his enjoyment of life, but he lamented being unable to scour secondhand bookstores.

"I will remember him as a very generous man, a quiet but committed Christian and someone who was very critical of a lot of modern fashions," McKie said. "He strongly objected to actors reading poetry and believed that only poets should read poetry. He made a lot of enemies, but that's the nature of the literary world."

Mr. Heath-Stubbs, born July 9, 1918, in London, received a degree from Queen's College, Oxford, where his classmates included the writers C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien.

His first published appearance came in 1941 in the book "Eight Oxford Poets" and he helped edit "Oxford Poetry" in 1942-1943. He also edited the 1953 British poetry anthology "Images Of Tomorrow."

© 2006 The Washington Post Company