top of page

Gillian Clarke: two poems


(At a concert in Lipice, Slovenia)

Underground in a vast emptiness,

the settling audience,

in the stone cold of the Postojna cave.

Then, a single note from the soprano

called from the catacomb of silence,

sounded the dark to sing the void alive.

The choir processed, came closer, singing low,

their rising hum like wind in trees, or hooves

of Lipizzanas over Slovenian plains.

Their voices measuring the void,

they woke a stage from darkness in a wave

of music that made a cavern listen,

cave became concert hall for song and word,

like the spring forest woken by a bird.



The blackbird is silent. In a month

he'll sing his Latin aria from the spire

of the chestnut tree, leafless now

in winter sleep, its buds tight closed.

In lengthening days,

each with a few more minutes of light,

he'll repossess his ground

with the year's first song.

Let's dream a hymn to joy,

a new year, and a birth,

the blackbird singing in a tree,

veni, vidi, vici, veni, vidi, vici.

Gillian Clarke was born in Cardiff in 1937 and lives in Ceredigion. Poet, playwright, editor, broadcaster, lecturer and translator from Welsh, she was Editor of The Anglo Welsh Review from 1974 to 1984. She was the National Poet of Wales from 2008 to 2016, was awarded the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry in 2010 and the Wilfred Owen Award in 2012. She has published ten collections of poetry for adults, written radio and theatre plays and translated poetry and prose from Welsh. Her work is widely anthologised, and her poetry forms part of the school syllabus in Britain. Her version of the book-long 7th century Welsh poem Y Gododdin was published by Faber in 2021. These two previously unpublished poems come from her forthcoming collection, The Silence.

bottom of page