Gillian Clarke Poems

Gillian Clarke is a Welsh poet who served as the National Poet of Wales from 2008 to 2016. Her work often features on GCSE syllabuses. She is also a playwright, editor, and has even worked translating Welsh to English. Clarke gives poetry readings throughout the United Kingdom and her work has been translated into other languages, like Chinese. 


by Gillian Clarke

 ‘Sunday’ by Gillian Clarke was inspired by the poet’s personal experience of attempting to enjoy a Sunday morning but then being reminded of all the suffering that’s going on in the world. 

The poem is typical of Clarke, insofar as it is deeply personal and situated in her native Wales. The poet chose to focus this piece on the very different ways of life that one can find around the world. This is something that should be, and is, highly relatable to many people, making this one of the poet's most memorable pieces of verse.

Getting up early on a Sunday morning

leaving them sleep for the sake of peace,

the lunch pungent, windows open

Death of a Young Woman

by Gillian Clarke

Explore ‘Death of a Young Woman,’ where Clarke depicts how a loved one’s death lets a person free from their inward, endless suffering.

Published in Gillian Clarke's second book of poetry, The Sundial (1978), 'Death of a Young Woman' explores the themes of loss, death, and love.

He wept for her and for the hard tasks

He had lovingly done, for the short,

Fierce life she had lived in the white bed,

For the burden he had put down for good.

Climbing Cader Idris

by Gillian Clarke

‘Climbing Cader Idris’ by Gillian Clarke celebrates the resiliency and the symbiotic relationship between individuals– representing beauty that can be found amid life’s challenges – as long as one is open to appreciate it during trying times.

The poem employs a simple style, in keeping with her reflective and conversational style, while dealing with the complex topic of challenges in life. 'Climbing Cader Idris' is not very direct. However, the underlying meaning of the poem is not obvious, and readers are encouraged to interpret it in their own ways. Finally, the poem depicts the essence of the Welsh landscape, a theme that appears in several of Clarke's poems.

You know the mountain with your body,

I with my mind, I suppose.

Each, in our way, describes

the steepening angle of rock.

Explore more poems from Gillian Clarke


by Gillian Clarke

‘February’ depicts a stunning and figurative encounter with Clarke’s familiar Welsh landscape on a snowy February day.

Friesian Bull

by Gillian Clarke

‘Friesian Bull’ by Gillian Clarke is a tale of a bull that is angry at his current state of being locked in his “brick and concrete stall”.

Heron at Port Talbot

by Gillian Clarke

‘Heron at Port Talbot’ describes the relationship between the industrial world and the natural and how the two collide on a snowy road at night.


by Gillian Clarke

‘Journey’ by Gillian Clarke is a poem of three stanzas that focuses on a road trip and all the things that are witnessed by the couple in the car.


by Gillian Clarke

‘Lament’ is Gillian Clarke’s war-inspired perspective on taking the time to remember the devastation and destruction that humanity is capable of today.

Miracle on St. David’s Day

by Gillian Clarke

‘Miracle on St. David’s Day’, as has been stated by Clarke herself, is based on her own personal experience about a man who had not “spoken” for years.


by Gillian Clarke

‘Musician’ by Gillian Clarke is a poem about her son learning to play the piano, where the imagery around the home aids to describe the creativity of music.

My Box

by Gillian Clarke

‘My Box’, by Gillian Clarke, explores the themes of relationships, strength, love and eternity in this poem with the metaphor of the box.


by Gillian Clarke

‘Pipistrelle’ by Gillian Clarke is a short poem about hidden messages of a relationship that has gone cold and does not have a future.


by Gillian Clarke

‘Seal’ by Gillian Clarke depicts motherhood. Specifically, the poet chose to describe the experience through the relationship between a mother and a baby seal.

White Roses

by Gillian Clarke

‘White Roses’ by Gillian Clarke is a heart-wrenching poem and true story about a sick child who bravely contends with pain during his short life. 

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