Thursday, 13 January 2011

Making the Beds for the Dead

I've just noticed my copy of 'Making the Beds for the Dead' by Gillian Clark, is due back to the library tomorrow.  That's the excellent Scottish Poetry Library outpost in Dumfries.  I've already renewed it once, and might just ring up and see if I can keep it for another month.  Eleri Mills did the cover.

What a lovely collection.  Try this from 'The Physicians of Myddvai':

A crack in glass,
the scream and shadow
of a Hawk, close and low
enough to blow the heart.

There's something so sudden, so loud, so disorientating about this stanza. - and then that intimate body blow in the last line and a half.  I absolutely love it.  It reeks of the mysteries of the Mabinogion, though it's not such an old story.  The Physicians of Myddfai were a family of physicians who lived in the parish of Myddfai, Carmarthenshire. I did a bit of looking up.  They are thought to have been related to Rhiwallon Feddyg and his sons, Cadwgan, Gruffudd and Einion, who were physicians to Rhys Gryg, Lord of Dinefwr in the thirteenth century. It is believed that their descendants continued to practice as physicians in the area until the eighteenth century. The gravestones of the last physicians in the line, David Jones (who died in 1719) and John Jones (who died in 1739) are to be seen in the parish church of Myddfai today.

Gillian Clark writes very well about sheep.  I appreciate 'Wethers':

Spring-born, their lives lived
on the one slope, in the one flock.
Summer, they forget their mothers,

forget our hands, learn grass,
grow wild, wander afield on the hill.
Winter, they know us again, grow tame,
calling for hay at the gate.


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