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ISBN: 978 1 857543 35 3
Categories: Welsh, Women
Imprint: Carcanet Poetry
Published: November 1997
216 x 135 mm
Publisher: Carcanet Press
Also available in: eBook (Kindle), eBook (EPUB)
after teaching a poetry course
A week away and I’m coming home.
At five the car breaks dawn in a surf of balsam,
untangles the hill, the lanes, the B-roads.
Stone towns of northern England stir
for the milk and the post.
Bill, his dying wife in his arms a month ago:
Lincolnshire spreads fields of widening gold
about his empty house, sons, daughters,
grandchildren in the sleeping farms,
her shadow cooling in the double bed.
The motorway straightens through the eyes of bridges.
Dawn burns off its gasses over Manchester,
and Sarah’s broken childhood bleeds again,
her father’s love gone sour and retracted to a vice
that turns the safe-house dead, and blind, and mute.
South on the M6, sunrise in my mirror
dazzles with tears the distant border country.
Into Wales, and for once I dare drive fast
where the road steps off between mountains into air,
Glaslyn blue and silk beyond it.
Jane with her love simpler than marriage
and all pain lost in the simple fact of it,
her body a harp now that the wind stirs.
Tracey, half a mind on poetry, half on visions,
still frail as glass from the doctor’s silences.
Home through waking villages, Bala yawns and rises.
Llyn Tegid takes a white sail in its palm.
Anne, after lifelong marriage, keeps house alone,
its rooms about her like his shrugged-off coat,
rehearses in my mind our house, one day.
The lane narrows and turns between sunburnt fields.
Two hundred miles behind me, you at the door
rising for breakfast, a late dream in your eyes.
The slate’s already hot. The bees are in the fuchsia.
A rug of sunlight’s on the bedroom floor, ours
and the widower’s bed spread cool for homecoming.
The Welsh publishing house Gwasg Gomer published Gillian Clarke's first full collection of poems, The Sundial, in 1978. In the twenty years since then the poet has become one of the best-loved and most widely read writers of Wales, well-known for her readings, for her radio work and her workshops.
'Gillian Clarke's poems ring with lucidity and power[...] her work is both personal and archetypal, built out of language as concrete as it is musical,' the Times Literary Supplement said. She combines traditional skills with an original voice and outlook, and with a history which includes the unwritten stories of Welsh women. Her Selected Poems has proven one of the most popular volumes of modern Welsh poetry, having gone through seven printings in a dozen years. 'Her language has a quality both casual and intense, mundane and visionary,' the Listener said of Letter from a Far Country. 'There is no gaudiness in her poetry; instead, the reader is aware of a generosity of spirit which allows the poems' subjects their own unbullied reality.'
Gillian Clarke is a severe critic of her own poems. Collected Poems includes all that she wishes to preserve of her work to date.
from The Sundial
Snow on the Mountain
Death of a Young Woman
Dyddgu Replies to Dafydd
At Ystrad Fflûr
Harvest at Mynachlog
St Thomas’s Day
from Letter from a Far Country
Return to Login
Miracle on St David’s Day
Jac Codi Baw
Letter from a Far Country
Kingfishers at Condat
Seamstress at St Léon
Heron at Port Talbot
Suicide on Pentwyn Bridge
Death of a Cat
Sheila na Gig at Kilpeck
Shadows in Llanbadarn
from Selected Poems
Syphoning the Spring
A Dream of Horses
Climbing Cader Idris
Castell y Bere
from Letting in the Rumour
At One Thousand Feet
Listening for Trains
Cold Knap Lake
Fires on Lly^n
Talking of Burnings in Walter Savage Landor’s Smithy
Overheard in County Sligo
Hare in July
The Rothko Room
Tory Party Conference, Bournemouth, 1986
Times like These
Magpie in Snow
from The King of Britain’s Daughter
Hölderlin in Tubingen
Swimming with Seals
Olwen Takes Her First Steps on the Word Processor in Time of War
Eclipse of the Moon
Walking on Water
The West Window of York Minster
St Winefride’s Well
The King of Britain’s Daughter
Index of titles
Index of first lines
Praise for Gillian Clarke
'Clarke's mellifluous new collection [A Recipe for Water] is her first since her appointment as Wales's national poet in 2008. The drop of water on the tongue, she tells us, 'was the first word in the world', and it's through water that these poems give up their stories: history is written into the Arctic's ice; myths well up from river sources; the currents on the ocean wash culture and heritage onto our shores. Watery collections have poured forth from the pens of poets from Sean O'Brien to Maura Dooley in recent years; anticipation is high for Clarke's contribution to the pool'. - Sarah Crown, the Guardian, 3 January 2009
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