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The Little Hours: New and Selected Poems

Hilary Llewellyn-Williams
ISBN-13: 
9781781726624
Publication Date: 
Friday, July 29, 2022
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£12.99

Hilary Llewellyn-Williams is one of the most renowned poets of her generation in Wales. The Little Hours: New and Selected Poems features poems from her earliest as well as her latest work.

Fully immersed in the natural world, the ‘Tree Calendar’ poems are composed in a richly pagan context: cycles of nature as reflected in the seasons which “reaffirm a mystical link between trees and language”. ‘Book of Shadows’, Llewellyn-Williams’ sequence on Renaissance monk/magician Giordano Bruno, is similarly invested in the mystical and in history, and in the heretical, the subverting or challenging of societal norms.

In ‘Animaculture’ and ‘Greenland’ her work assumes a darker tone, inspired by personal experience: family, dreams and childhood memories. She explores the natural world, the environment, the condition of women and the mysterious interface between nature and spirituality.

This exploration of darker themes continues in ‘The Little Hours’, a new sequence arranged according to the traditional monastic hours. Llewellyn-Williams continues to hone her lyrical skill with poems about domestic life, grief and loss, including a sequence written in memory of her late husband.

It is the primacy of physical place, the environment, which informs her startling and vivid imagery. Llewellyn-Williams is one of the earliest environmental poets; her response to nature is always profound, passionate and keenly observed, from immersion in the landscape to the particularity of feeding a bat.

This new volume will remind admirers of Llewellyn-Williams’s many strengths and beauties and will win a new generation of readers.

 

Hilary Llewelyn-Williams reads ‘Considering the World’:

 

REVIEWS

Review by Mab Jones, Buzz Magazine

Monday, October 31, 2022

Lucid, luminous, languid, the measured, evenly paced poetry of Hilary Llewellyn-Williams takes inspiration and meaning from the year itself, beginning early on with a ‘tree calendar’ sequence that draws upon a pagan view of the world. As a ‘selected’, there are poems from various previously published volumes in The Little Hours, meaning that there’s a multiplicity of moods, a wide range of subjects and themes; but always, throughout, there’s nature, and magic, too, in subjects that consider monks, myth, and meaning, leaning, here and there, towards the mystical.

The poems are liquid and flowing, yet confident and concise. Here’s a poet who’s made friends with their own pen, and it’s an instrument they wield with skill – sometimes, in collections, there is a bit of mess; an experiment that doesn’t quite work; a word you feel is out of place. There’s no such feeling here. It’s as if the works within this weighty volume have been, like sculpture, ‘seen’ and hewed into perfect shape.

Reading The Little Hours felt to me, therefore, like reading something inspired, yet well-earthed – a prayer, a meditation, an invocation. There’s physical vibrancy and astute observation but this rare sense, too. A selected that’s worth picking up and perusing, then, but particularly if you want to immerse into a wondrous world which considers “early saints” alongside wells in woods, herbals and hares, broomsticks and blessings. It’s pretty bewitching stuff all round.

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