The term poet laureate has existed since before 1619, when Charles I appointed Ben Jonson the first poet laureate in Great Britain. A poet laureate is a writer of poetry who receives honor for eloquence. The word laureate comes from the laurel, Laurus nobilis, a type of bay tree whose leaves are used to make an entwined crown as an emblem of victory or of distinction—in this case, in poetry. The laurel tree was, in Greek mythology, sacred to the god Apollo, who was the patron of poets. The poet laureate assumes an official position within a government, and is often called upon to write poems in honor of ceremonial occasions. Many countries, states, and cities have poets laureate. The custom seems to be more ...

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