Friday Poem – ‘Steel’ by Paul Henry

To celebrate the Six Nations and St David’s Day on the 1st March, this week’s Friday Poem is ’Steel‘ by Paul Henry from The Brittle Sea: New and Selected Poems.

This cover shows an abstract painting by Antony Goble of a red moon-shaped face amidst a swirling blue seal The text reads: Paul Henry, The Brittle Sea, New and Selected Poems

With a musician’s ear and an artist’s eye, Paul Henry’s poems of love and fatherhood, informed by the Welsh-speaking community of his childhood, bridge both the rural and urban experience. The Brittle Sea reacquaints readers with Henry’s vast gallery of characters, from the boy having his hair cut in ‘Daylight Robbery’ to the ghosts of his long, Newport poem, ‘Between Two Bridges.’ The new poems section includes the popular ‘Steel’, inspired by the Welsh national rugby team; others which revisit some of ‘The Visitors’ from The Milk Thief; and a moving elegy for the painter Anthony Goble.


(i) 10

Turn like a key
in the game’s lock
and open the score
with a kick –
open a door in the air
onto blue sky.

I dreamt I opened a door
in the sky
and half the world cheered.
I dreamt I surfaced
into a roar.
No sky was like this before.

Dart like a hare
through a hedge at dusk
and open the score
with a try –
open a door
in the earth.

I dreamt I opened a door
in the earth
and rose into light
out of an underworld
where, for years,
I carried their ghosts on my back.

Flash like a link
in a steel chain
like the sun on the sea
or a wave
in the industry
of a rising tide.

I dreamt I surfaced
into a roar.
The seagulls
shrill as whistles
were red and white.
I dreamt my ghosts had taken flight.

The Brittle Sea is available on the Seren website: £9.99

Paul Henry’s forthcoming collection As if To Sing is available to pre-order now on the Seren website. Publishing 11th April 2022.

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