OK, he wasn't a poet but he did write some fine pieces of prose over many years.
Here's a biography link for those who may not know him:
He had a very enlightened perspective on this country. I enjoyed his comments on TV every week.
THANK YOU for bringing this up! I was sad to hear of Mr. Cooke's death. At the same time, let me say that he was privileged to work up until about three months before he died, retire voluntarily, and get things in order. He was loved by fans but not the kind of fans who stalk or pester their idols.
This is not his BEST prose, but it's a recent piece that impressed me. He was describing the ENRON scandal, and here's what he wrote to give an impression of the scale and horridness of what had been done:
The American public is as stunned as the British people would have been in 1912 to learn that the captain of the Titanic, having been told by the ship's architect - as he was - that the ship would go down in two hours, summoned his exec officer, told him to round up the officers and prepare to abandon ship as silently as possible, ordering two or three lifeboats to be slipped down on the starboard side.
Meanwhile the purser was instructed to open the ship's strong box, take all the currency and the jewels of the passengers and join the fleeing officers.
The chief steward was told to have his men patrol the ship and assure the passengers that everything was fine, no danger and go back to sleep. The stewards might then join the rest of the crew in the departing lifeboats and pull away.
("Letter from America," Monday, 28 January, 2002)
Horridness? Horridity, or horrificality, surely. No, just kidding - great parellel, thanks!
Point taken, Hugh.
The word I wanted was HORROR.
The impression gained in Britain is that he worked until four weeks before he died, and did not retire entirely voluntarily. It was announced here that he was very upset that his retirement was sort of officially leaked before he was ready to declaire it himself.
I didn't know that. NPR just reported that he was over ninety years old when he retired for health reasons.
The health reasons seem true enough. He was 96, and a piece that used to take four hours to write was now taking three days and leaving him in a state of collapse.
Seems a fair trade for 96 years on the planet.