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Making the Beds for the Dead
ISBN: 978 1 857547 37 5
Imprint: Carcanet Poetry
Published: April 2004
216 x 135 mm
Publisher: Carcanet Press
Also available in: eBook (EPUB), eBook (Kindle)
1657. The house in Delft.
Windfalls in a bowl.
I see her wake, take an apple
in one hand, a knife in the other.
The apple has fallen from the tree in Eden.
They are mapping the round earth,
discovering geography, astronomy,
She holds the world in her hand...
from 'A Woman Sleeping at a Table, by Vermeer'
The title sequence of Making the Beds for the Dead charts the journey of a virus in 'the plague year'. Come from outer space, it travels - on a fox's paw, the beak of a kite and a crow and a buzzard - into the very heart of our lives. The poet includes personal, verses and stories from farmers in her family and neighbourhood.
The open structure allows the Gillian Clarke to include her seven rock poems, written for the National Botanic Garden of Wales; her poems based in archaeology; and her poems about war, and urban violence. There is an instinctive and a deliberate unity of theme and idiom in this book. The poet remains true to her landscapes and her nation. The sequence 'The Physicians of Myddfai', nine sonnets for Aberglasne, and much else is included in this characteristically generous and engaging volume by Wales' best-loved poet.
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
Belinda Cooke, Poetry Ireland Review , Issue 86
In Making Beds for the Dead , Gillian Clarke begins with an explanation of the nature of creativity, of language in particular, a process in which she draws on associations with friends past and present. read more
Elizabeth Burns, Orbis magazine, Autumn 2004
At the beginning is a poem about a Vermeer painting, where a woman peels an apple and from it learns about the universe: 'The apple turns / under fixed stars, / Her knife cuts into the Pole...' read more
Tim Liardet, North magazine, issue 36, Summer 2005
Gillian Clarke's Making the Beds for the Dead continues with more of what we expect from her: the clarity of her narrative drive, the acute observation of the natural world. read more
Richard Poole, New Welsh Review , volume 67, spring 2005
Gillian Clarke's new collection is made up of five sequences and twenty-seven poems split into three unequal groups. read more
John Scrivener, The Reader , Issue 17, Spring 2005
Where the Future Believes in Itself
Straightaway in this new collection of poems by Gillian Clarke images of close-fitting accuracy arrest your attention: you're made to feel the 'moth-thin pages' of a Bible, or see a woman who, cutting into an apple, 'peels the fruit in a single / ringlet of skin': how exactly this gives us that coil of peel, at once tense and lolling (the single/ringlet repetition mimicking the repeating curls). read more
Reviewed by David Morley in The Guardian , 13th November 2004
All Clarke's books to date have an individual architecture in selection and order, one that requires her readers to grasp the book as a conceptual, even a musical whole. read more
Reviewed in Planet by Anne Cluysenaar
This is a richly varied collection, remarkable both for its sense of vast perspectives within immediate (often homely) experience and its visceral evocation of current events. read more
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