Mountains spent time on it:
the slow settlement of silts,
mudstones metamorphosed to slate,
prehistory pressed in its pages.

Rock blown from the quarry face
and slabbed for a plinth, a floor,
a flight of stairs rising
straight from the sea.

The forest dreamed it:
parable or parabola.
Look up into the gills of fungi,
the throat of a lily.

A man imagined it:
the oak roof’s geometry
fluid and ribbed as the tides
in their flux and flow.

He cools us with roof-pools of rain
that flicker with light twice reflected,
a wind-tower of steel to swallow our words
and exchange them for airs off the Bay.

Inside the house of light at the sea’s rim
you can still hear the forest breathe,
feel the mountain shift underfoot,
hear sands sift in the grass.



Gillian Clarke


(Published with permission from Ice, Carcanet, 2012)


Gillian Clarke is poet, playwright, editor, translator and President of Ty Newydd, the North Wales writers´ centre. Her work has been translated into ten languages and she has read widely in Europe and the USA. In 2008 she was appointed National Poet of Wales and in 2010 awarded the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry. She’s the author of 'The King of Britain's Daughter' (1993), 'Five Fields' (1998), 'Making the Beds for the Dead' (2004) and 'A Recipe for Water' (2009). Carcanet have published her 'Selected Poems' and 'Collected Poems'. 'Ice' was shortlisted for the T.S. Eliot prize.