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Heath-Stubbs didn't much care for the 1960s, lamenting the decline of literary Soho and detesting the "hideous music of the Beatles"; never a fashionable poet, he became a neglected one as, following his Selected Poems of 1965, Oxford University Press dropped him from their list.

Fortunately, he now had a steady source of income, lecturing at the College of St Mark and St John in Chelsea from 1963 to 1972.

John Heath-Stubbs was born in 1918 into a family whose distinguished if tenuous ancestral connections he was fond of tracing.

He spent a peripatetic early childhood in Paris, London and various parts of England before his parents eventually settled at Barton on Sea, Hampshire, where his brother George was born in 1925.

By this time, everyone in the bar was listening or approximately joining in.

It was perhaps not quite what they had expected from a blind septuagenarian poet, but it must have been almost like Soho in the 1940s.

His last, uncollected poem, "The Garfish", is a wry tribute to this and, appropriately enough, to "other odd fish".

Underlying his often rather florid early style there had always been a strain of rigorous, allusive classicism (significantly, the English poets he most enjoyed teaching were the 18th-century Augustans) as well as a lifelong fascination with the natural world.

These were to form an utterly distinctive mythological-botanical fusion which could be created in the mind's eye: A nightingale sat perched upon The trellis of a Samian vine Beneath whose shade Anacreon Strung his slight lyre, and drank his wine; Far in the Asian highlands then The corpse of great Polycrates Was scorched by sun and stripped by rain, Stretched on the cross-bars of two trees; But the nightingale's lament Was for dismembered Itylus: White-haired Anacreon vainly schemed - How could he move Cleobulus. By this time he was also writing poems which develop witty reflections on life and language into successful sequences ("Use of Personal Pronouns", for instance, or "First Steps in Physiologus: a Little Bestiary for Beginners"); and he had also become an outstanding occasional poet, invariably marking the birthdays, marriages, retirements or deaths of friends with something wise, funny and apt.

This flurry of travelling was literally Heath-Stubbs's last chance to see the world: his right eye was removed in 1956, while his left eye became too weak for reading around 1961.

His four main collections of this period - The Swarming of the Bees (1949), A Charm Again the Toothache (1954), The Triumph of the Muse (1958) and The Blue-Fly in His Head (1962) - chart the development of his mature poetic voice, a progress inextricably linked with his encroaching blindness.

After graduating with a First in 1942, Heath-Stubbs stayed on to begin, though not to complete, a BLitt.

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