A Poem by Lynette Roberts

We head into the second week of Wales Readathon 2020 with a poem from a neglected Welsh writer

LRToday I share with you a poem penned by a writer I greatly admire. She was an experimental modernist, principally admired as a war poet, who published only two collections.

Lynette Roberts (or Evelyn Beatrice Roberts) was born in Buenos Aires in 1909 to parents of Welsh origin. She moved to London as a young woman, where she studied art at the Central School for Arts and Crafts, before marrying the Welsh author and editor Keidrych Rhys in 1939 (Dylan Thomas was their best man). She moved to the village of Llanybri with her husband and remained in Wales until her death in relative obscurity in 1995.

Her work was held in high esteem by Eliot, Thomas and Robert Graves.


Curlew by Lynette Roberts

A curlew hovers and haunts the room.
On bare boards creak its filleted feet:
For freedom intones four notes of doom,

Crept, slept, wept, kept, under aerial gloom:
With Europe restless in hís wing beat,
A curlew hovers and haunts the room:

Fouls wire, pierces the upholstery bloom,
Strikes window pane with shagreen bleat,
Flicking scarlet tongue to a frenzied fume

Splints hís curved beak on square glass tomb:
Runs to and fro seeking mudsilt retreat;
Captured, explodes a chill sky croon

Wail-íng… pal-íng… a desolate phantom
At the bath rim purring burbling trilling soft sweet
Syllables of sinuous sound to a liquid moon

Till window, wide, frees thin mails of plume,
Fluting voice and shade through clouds moist sleet:
A curlew hovers and haunts the room.


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Categories: Reading Wales

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15 replies

    • I love her bird poetry in particular.

      • Thank you for this poem. How many writers are there, especially woman, who have fallen into obscurity. Thank heavens there are now publishers and websites through which we can follow up some treasures. I had not heard of her but will definitely check out the links now. The curlews’ cry is haunting and beautiful. In Australia it is likened to a grieving mother calling for her lost child. Spine tingling.

  1. I’ve never heard of this writer but I’d definitely be interested in reading more by her, that poem is so cleverly constructed and unsettling. Thanks for sharing Paula!

  2. Thank you for the introduction – great article on The Conversation!

  3. What a lovely poem from a new to me poet – thank you Paula! 😀

  4. What a lovely poem! Thanks, Paula.


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