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Collected Poems

Gillian Clarke

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ISBN: 978 1 857543 35 3
Categories: Welsh, Women
Imprint: Carcanet Poetry
Published: November 1997
216 x 135 mm
220 pages
Publisher: Carcanet Press
Also available in: eBook (Kindle), eBook (EPUB)
  • Description
  • Excerpt
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  • Coming Home
    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
    The Sundial 
    Snow on the Mountain
    Blaen Cwrt
    Still Life 
    Storwm Awst 
    Death of a Young Woman 
    Lunchtime Lecture 
    Dyddgu Replies to Dafydd 
    At Ystrad Fflûr 
    Railway Tracks 
    Burning Nettles 
    Last Rites 
    Harvest at Mynachlog 
    St Thomas’s Day 

    from Letter from a Far Country
    White Roses
    Return to Login 
    Miracle on St David’s Day 
    East Moors 
    Jac Codi Baw 
    Friesian Bull 
    Taid’s Funeral 
    Letter from a Far Country 
    Kingfishers at Condat
    Seamstress at St Léon
    Les Grottes 
    Heron at Port Talbot 
    Suicide on Pentwyn Bridge
    Death of a Cat 
    Cardiff Elms
    Sheila na Gig at Kilpeck
    Shadows in Llanbadarn 
    The Water-Diviner 

    from Selected Poems
    Syphoning the Spring 
    A Dream of Horses 
    Climbing Cader Idris
    Castell y Bere
    Taid’s Grave 

    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
    Post Script 
    Overheard in County Sligo
    My Box 
    The Hare 
    Hare in July
    The Rothko Room
    Red Poppy 
    Night Flying
    In January
    Tory Party Conference, Bournemouth, 1986 
    Times like These 
    Slate Mine 
    Fulmarus Glacialis 
    Racing Pigeon
    Magpie in Snow 
    Tawny Owl
    Peregrine Falcon 

    from The King of Britain’s Daughter
    The Listeners
    The Vet 
    Hölderlin in Tubingen 
    The Poet
    Wild Sound 
    Swimming with Seals
    No Hands 
    Olwen Takes Her First Steps on the Word Processor in Time of War
    Eclipse of the Moon
    The Lighthouse
    On Air 
    Wind Gauge 
    Grave God
    The Angelus 
    Family House
    Stealing Peas 
    Breakers Yard 
    The Loft
    Walking on Water 
    The West Window of York Minster 
    St Winefride’s Well 
    Coming Home 
    The Wind-Chimes 
    The King of Britain’s Daughter

    Index of titles 
    Index of first lines 
    Gillian Clarke's poems ring with lucidity and power...her work is personal and archetypal, built out of language as concrete as it is musical.' - Times Literary Supplement Born in Cardiff, Gillian Clarke is a poet, playwright, editor, broadcaster, lecturer and translator (from Welsh). In 2008 Clarke was appointed National Poet of ... read more
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