THE work of two great poets, born centuries apart yet both linked to Salisbury have been immortalised in the city’s newly refurbished Market Place.

Two lines of poetry from internationally- acclaimed author Vikram Seth’s work Lost have been engraved into four paving slabs just outside Nationwide and RBS.

And Lost is based on the work of another of Salisbury’s most famous sons – 17th century religious poet George Herbet, rector of the parish of Fugglestone St Peter with Bemerton.

Seth bought Herbert’s old rectory in Bemerton ten years ago and was inspired by surroundings that would have been so familiar to the house’s long ago owner to write six poems based on six of those written by Herbert.

The connections of both men to Salisbury and to each other made the words from Lost: “We turn, we learn, we twist, we pray For word or tune or touch or ray”, based on Herbert’s Paradise, a fitting choice to be set into the stone of the city both could call home.

The driving force behind the project was 19-year-old Sophia Compton, from Tisbury, working with the project funder the Forward Arts Foundation.

She said: “The most exciting part of it was choosing the lines. The reason I chose Lost, apart from the words themselves and their ability to make people stop and look, is that they have a beautiful relevance to Salisbury.”

The idea of bringing poetry into the lives of people going about their everyday business in towns and cities came from the 2012 Winning Words Project, an initiative that brought verse to the Olympic Games by commissioning and installing poems at the Olympic Park and other locations.

The verse to be used in Salisbury was chosen in consultation with local schools, Salisbury Arts Centre and other members of the artistic community, who unanimously approved of Seth’s words.

Wiltshire Council gave permission for the project to go ahead and the words were carved into the paving slabs by Berwick St John stonemason Harry Jonas, who has worked extensively on both historic and contemporary buildings in the Salisbury area, and were unveiled on Friday.

Seth said: “I am happy – and honoured – that a couplet from one of my poems is being used for the Poetry on Location initiative in Salisbury’s market square. This is an interesting and innovative way of knitting poets with a Salisbury connection into the very fabric of the city’s culture.”

The author added that he would like to “thank the spirit of George Herbert, who inspired these words, and who (I hope) approves!”