Places of Poetry: Caernarfon by Gillian Clarke

Places of Poetry is a project which aims to use creative writing to prompt reflection about national and cultural identities by inviting contributions to the website, until 4 October. The project is open to all writers. This summer Places of Poetry will hold events across England and Wales, each site hosting a poet-in-residence with each poet contributing a poem from their residency to The Clearing. This new work is by Gillian Clarke.


Twelve-eighty-two, a hundred crow-miles south,

they killed Llywelyn, while kite and raven

scrawled skies over Cilmeri’s bloody earth.

The Welsh prince dead, a nation broken,

the dream of freedom lost.

Now, within these walls,

sea-light through a slit, the distant cry of gulls,

we write in an octagon tower of stone

cold as a cave. At a table we gather as one

to dream imprisonment in this bleak cell.

At the window-slit, a dove preens on the sill;

sea-bird cries are free as summer air,

as we will be, let from our prison tower,

to step out under the sun, walk on the grass,

feel the breath of seven centuries pass.



Born in Cardiff, Wales, Gillian Clarke is a poet, playwright, editor and translator (from Welsh). She is also president and co-founder of Ty Newydd, winner of both the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry and the Wilfred Owen Association Poetry award, as well as a Tutor on the M.Phil. course in Creative Writing at the University of Glamorgan. Her poetry is studied by GCSE and A Level students throughout Britain. Her poetry collections include, A Recipe for Water, Letter From a Far Country and Making the Beds for the Dead. Photograph of Gillian by Marion Delyth.

The illustration is by Benjamin Bowen of Union Studio


Places of Poetry is led by the poet Paul Farley and the academic Andrew McRae. It is based at the universities of Exeter and Lancaster, and funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, The National Lottery Heritage Fund and Arts Council England. It is underpinned by national partnerships with the Ordnance Survey, The Poetry Society, and National Poetry Day.

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