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Collected Poems

Gillian Clarke

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Price: GBP£ 11.69
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Paperback
ISBN: 978 1 857543 35 3
Categories: Bestsellers, Welsh, Women
Imprint: Carcanet Poetry
Published: November 1997
222 x 135 x 14 mm
220 pages
Publisher: Carcanet Press
Also available in: eBook (Kindle), eBook (EPUB)
  • Description
  • Excerpt
  • Contents
  • Reviews
  • Audio
  • 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 
    Journey 
    Snow on the Mountain
    Blaen Cwrt
    Baby-Sitting 
    Calf
    Nightride
    Catrin 
    Still Life 
    Storwm Awst 
    Death of a Young Woman 
    Swinging 
    Lunchtime Lecture 
    Dyddgu Replies to Dafydd 
    At Ystrad Fflûr 
    Railway Tracks 
    Foghorns 
    Curlew 
    Burning Nettles 
    Last Rites 
    Harvest at Mynachlog 
    Clywedog
    Choughs 
    St Thomas’s Day 

    from Letter from a Far Country
    White Roses
    Return to Login 
    Miracle on St David’s Day 
    East Moors 
    Scything 
    Jac Codi Baw 
    Ram 
    Buzzard 
    Friesian Bull 
    Sunday 
    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
    Plums 
    Death of a Cat 
    Cardiff Elms
    Sheila na Gig at Kilpeck
    Siege 
    Lly^r 
    Blodeuwedd 
    Shadows in Llanbadarn 
    The Water-Diviner 

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

    from Letting in the Rumour
    At One Thousand Feet 
    Neighbours 
    Windmill 
    Listening for Trains
    Storm
    Seal 
    Ichthyosaur 
    Cold Knap Lake
    Apples
    Oranges
    Fires on Lly^n
    Talking of Burnings in Walter Savage Landor’s Smithy
    Border 
    Post Script 
    Marged
    Overheard in County Sligo
    Shawl 
    My Box 
    Falling 
    Roadblock
    Binary
    The Hare 
    Hare in July
    Trophy 
    The Rothko Room
    Red Poppy 
    February
    Gannet 
    Night Flying
    In January
    Tory Party Conference, Bournemouth, 1986 
    Times like These 
    Slate Mine 
    Roofing 
    Hearthstone 
    Pipistrelle 
    Fulmarus Glacialis 
    Racing Pigeon
    Magpie in Snow 
    Tawny Owl
    Peregrine Falcon 
    Clocks 
    Cofiant

    from The King of Britain’s Daughter
    Blood 
    Musician 
    The Listeners
    Anorexic
    The Vet 
    Baltic 
    Hölderlin in Tubingen 
    The Poet
    Wild Sound 
    Swimming with Seals
    Lurcher 
    Lament
    No Hands 
    Olwen Takes Her First Steps on the Word Processor in Time of War
    Eclipse of the Moon
    Advent 
    The Lighthouse
    On Air 
    Wind Gauge 
    Grave God
    The Angelus 
    Family House
    Stealing Peas 
    Sunday 
    Breakers Yard 
    The Loft
    Hay 
    Beudy 
    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 
    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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