I first read this book years ago and recently re-read it slowly over a couple of months. Gillian Clarke is one of the best known and best loved poets of Wales. Being her Collected Poems this book brings together a diverse selection of poems, including Cofiant - a long family biography in verse form, following an old Welsh tradition of such poems and a series of poems The King of Britain's daughter about a historical princess of Wales.
Clarke is a poet who clearly lives in nature and her descriptions are beautiful:
Dusk unwinds its spool
among the stems of plum trees
on the screen of evening
She has the ability to transport the reader right there, to the farm field, to the derelict mine, to the shoreline.
It's interesting too, to notice how the poetry changes through the selections. I'm not enough of a literary critic to draw out the stylistic differences without more learned people disagreeing with me, so I'll say no more, but if you read the book you'll probably realise what I mean. (I have to admit, too, that on a personal level, I found some of her line-breaks in the early poems really distracting and annoying).
This is a collection that is worth savouring and reading several times.
The sea writes on the sand
in a scribble of weed and gull bones.
(from The King of Britain's Daughter)
Collected Poems of Gillian Clarke, published by Carcanet
As ever, red text contains hyperlinks that take you to other pages, where you can find out more.