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Corgi Series: Common Path, The (Corgi Series 21)

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Manylion a Disgrifiad y Llyfr | Book Details & Description

  • ISBN: 9780863817212
  • Author: Glyn Jones
  • Publication April 2005
  • Format: Paperback, 148x103 mm, 104 pages

A pocket size selection of poems by a Merthyr Tydfil-born poet, with a short biography and a useful bibliography.

Gwales Review
This is a very rich and visual collection in Corgi series of the work of Glyn Jones (1905-1995) who resided in Merthyr Tydfil as a boy and wrote extensively of his experiences there, amongst other short stories and novels. The range of language is impressive as he introduces the lyrical flow of the Welsh language into English, with extraordinary results which are dramatic and deeply poetic.

The poem ‘Merthyr’ – ‘Lord, when they kill me, let the job be thorough, And carried out behind that county borough, Known as Merthyr, in Glamorganshire’ – is a fascinating descriptive poem of richness and vitality as he writes with a fervour about the place. It is as though we are being led to dance by his language, the turns of it and the drama of the imagery. In a later poem ‘Comrades’ there is a description of moonlight which is a fine example of the way he extends his words to the more complex sentence to capture a scene. The beginning of this particular poem has a drama which is almost filmic in style: ‘As I gazed across the mountains, Thunders prowled the dusty plain, And on its dust the jetty fountains, Squandered gems. The land seemed Spain.’

Some of the subjects are concerned with a deep engagement with the country itself or the area. The symbolic ‘Y Ddraig Goch’ is a fine example of a passionate piece directly connected to Wales itself as an independent country under complex influences. The later ‘Bindweed’ is a warm and humane reflection concerning his memories of ‘Gwynn’ and his death – ‘sweet bindweed was heavy in that August garden. The Grey sea stiffens and sinks to a slab of iron. How is it the heart dead as it's quick can suffer?’

His perceptive view and direct experience on life in the mining community come through many of these poems, one of the most potent being ‘Again’ where he describes his home and family, the beauty and warmth of the atmosphere captured succinctly: ‘Inside the warm room, those two women together, Cleaning the brass candlesticks in silence, Are my daughter and my Mother . . .'. We are later reminded of the harsh realities of their working lives:‘Shall my daughter too run through the streets to the pit-head, And stand cold among the women crowding the gateway, And see the young men brought up dead?’ This directness from the heart is evident throughout all of Glyn Jones’s poems and there are so many more that I have not mentioned.

The collection ends with a short story ‘Jordan’, a curious story of his meeting at an inn (in a town where he and his friend Danny have been selling their wares) with a horrific character who is the manservant of the local doctor and who is looking for corpses. It is a story full of visual impact and again has an almost filmic quality to it – a very lively story to end the collection, even though the subject matter is gruelling and surreal and yet with a dry humour.

I found the book very enjoyable to read, many of the poems are moving and passionate, the imagery stays in the mind well beyond reading it and it is definitely a book to pick up many times.

Clare Maynard