As If To Sing
‘A stunning collection. Much of what you’d anticipate to find is here: the lyricism, the haunting evocations of memory, of loss, of absence... and an exploration of song in itself. What makes his poetry so effective is the nuances of white space and the spaces between words... The suggestiveness of his work is incredible.’ – Paul Chambers; The Review Show (BBC Radio Wales)
‘As If To Sing explores the human condition through the language of music and does so with a mastery of poetics.’ – Isobel Roach; Wales Arts Review
The power of song, to sustain the human spirit, resonates through As if to Sing. A trapped caver crawls back through songs to the sea; Welsh soldiers pack their hearts into a song on the eve of battle, ‘for safe-keeping’; a child crossing a bridge sings ‘a song with no beginning or end’....
Blurring past and present, a ‘torchsong’ of music and light intensifies in The Boys in the Branches, a moving sequence to the poet’s sons where three boys scale a tree to manhood, to ‘carve their names on the late sun’. The collection’s closing cadence includes the long poem The Key to Penllain. Set in the summer of 1969, its apocalyptic dream stages a search for a key which could save the planet. Rich in the musical lyricism admired by readers and fellow poets, As if to Sing is an essential addition to this poet’s compelling body of work.
"He takes his place as one of the most important Welsh poets now writing." – Carol Ann Duffy on The Glass Aisle
"This haunting, elegiac collection, about music, and made of music, leaves a reader’s mind full of phrases that catch the heart and lodge in the memory." – Gillian Clarke on The Glass Aisle
"Paul Henry has much of his compatriot R.S.Thomas's gift, in that poet's later work, for terse, coolly forthright insightfulness." – The TLS
"Henry is working at the core of lyric poetry, with love and loss and the 'deeper river'." – The Poetry Review