So the BBC wants you to vote for the Nation’s Favourite Poet. Or it wants some people to vote, anyway — I’m a little confused because I’m not sure what “nation” the good ol’ Beeb has in mind. England? Great Britain? The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland? Or perhaps something more amorphous: Albion, say, or the British Isles?
The nominated poets themselves aren't much of a guide. In addition to the many who lived all their lives in England, there’s Robert Burns (a Scot), W. B. Yeats (born in Dublin), Seamus Heaney (born in Northern Ireland, but an Irish citizen), T. S. Eliot (born in St. Louis, later became a British subject), W. H. Auden (born in York, later became an American citizen). It’s all so very confusing. And it’s odd that Shakespeare is not, for these purposes, considered a poet. He was one, you know.
Apparently the two qualifications for nomination are: (a) you must have lived in one or more of the British Isles for some significant chunk of your life, and (b) you must write in English.
I voted for Auden, of course. So should you.