Carcanet Press Logo
Quote of the Day
If it were not for Carcanet, my library would be unbearably impoverished.
Louis de Bernieres

Collected Poems

Gillian Clarke

Cover Picture of Collected Poems
10% off eBook (EPUB)
10% off Paperback
Categories: Bestsellers, Welsh, Women
Imprint: Carcanet Poetry
Publisher: Carcanet Press
Available as:
eBook (EPUB) Needs ADE!
(Pub. Aug 2011)
£11.99 £10.79
Paperback (192 pages)
(Pub. Nov 1997)
£14.99 £13.49
To use the EPUB version, you will need to have Adobe Digital Editions (ADE) installed on your device. You can find out more at Please do not purchase this version if you do not have and are not prepared to install, Adobe Digital Editions.
  • Description
  • Excerpt
  • Author
  • Contents
  • Awards
  • 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 
    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 
    Born in Cardiff, Gillian Clarke is a poet, playwright, editor, broadcaster, lecturer and translator (from Welsh). She edited the Anglo-Welsh Review from 1975 to 1984, and has taught creative writing in primary and secondary schools and at university level. She is president of Ty Newydd, the writers' centre in North Wales ... read more
    Awards won by Gillian Clarke Commended, 2024 A Poetry Book Society Spring Recommendation
    (The Silence)
    Short-listed, 2022 The Wales Book of the Year
    (Roots Home)
    Long-listed, 2020 The Laurel Prize for Ecopoetry (Zoology) Winner, 2011 Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry.
    Winner, 2012 Wilfred Owen Award
    Praise for Gillian Clarke 'Clarke's skill lies in using simple language to record moments of great beauty, no less lovely for sometimes being familiar. She reminds us of the comfort to be drawn from paying attention to nature'

    Rishi Dastidar, The Guardian

    'Rich with repetition and punctuated by potent page breaks, this extraordinarily incisive collection creates space to reflect upon how the pandemic has transformed us and what, in the face of loss and quiet, our hearts have learned.'

    Jo Clement, The Poetry Society Bulletin

    'The Silence is not concerned only with the pandemic. Gillian Clarke's writing frequently offsets her awareness of the naturalness and depth of her roots in rural Wales with the sense of strangeness which comes from having English as her "mother-tongue". These meditations are delicately handled in the collection, and particularly striking in the context of environmental catastrophe. What now threatens the landscape which Clarke has farmed and nurtured, in life as in verse, are shadows which roll across the globe, turning, for many people, the possibility of belonging anywhere into wishful thinking. The Silence is full of poems which remind us of the importance of place, and the demand of its words and silences to be listened to.'

    Carol Rumens, The Guardian Poem of the Week

      'There is a numinous quality to this book, a kind of spiritual attention which reveals, by silence and contemplation, the wondrous.'

    Stephen Sexton, Irish Times

    'This tug between the factual and the more mystical world beyond is at the heart of the collection. Science can describe the Land but not how love of particular places works within the human spirit...a richly varied and substantial collection'

    D A Prince, the North

    'Clarke has a direct line to the natural world. She paints the Welsh landscape without idealising or romanticising, and in the process shows that nature doesn't need to be elevated to inspire a quiet awe.'
    Financial Times Best Books of 2017

     'Always openings. Perceptions never alien to the new. No borders enclose her ideas. They are allowed to roam in her meticulous phrasing. And yet her greatest strength is, paradoxically, her moments of both closure and trapped moments of insight delivered to us grateful readers with faithful intelligence.'
    Herald Scotland

    'Clarke is a singer among poets, a celebrant of landscape, trees, insects, dead ewes, a writer whose rhythms and vocabulary seem tenaciously rooted in the traditions of the place of their origin.'
    The Tablet
    'Gillian Clarke's outer and inner landscapes are the sources from which her poetry draws its strengths.'
    Carol Ann Duffy, Guardian
      'Gillian Clarke's [poems] ring with lucidity and power... Clarke's work is both personal and archetypal, built out of language as concrete as it is musical.'
    Anne Stevenson, Times Literary Supplement
     'In Ice Gillian Clarke explores memory and identity through a series of winter landscapes.'
    Adam Newey, The Guardian, 1st December 2012
    '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
Share this...
The Carcanet Blog Goddamned Selected Poems: Stanley Moss read more Diary of an Invasion: Oksana Maksymchuk read more The Strongbox: Sasha Dugdale read more Not a Moment Too Soon: Frank Kuppner read more Coco Island: Christine Roseeta Walker read more that which appears: Thomas A Clark read more
Find your local bookshop logo
Arts Council Logo
We thank the Arts Council England for their support and assistance in this interactive Project.
This website ©2000-2024 Carcanet Press Ltd