This first solo volume in English by bilingual poet Damian Walford Davies amply demonstrates his mastery of form and the breadth of his vision. The impetus may be a found object, a personal experience, a painting or a text, which inspires a sustained meditation on its essence before Davies delves into its context or associations.
Creating unexpected connections, he ponders juxtapositions and conflicts of man and nature – a deer caught in car headlights, a bee banging against the window – or the effects of technological shift on man and landscape. The poems stretch through time and space, from Roman feasts to victims of seventeenth-century witch-hunts, from the iceberg of narrative hidden below a brief reference in a nineteenth-century diary, to a modern flight over the ancient archaeological landscape of Wales. Each richly-referential poem develops organically, following its own narrative path and the sequence of images and ideas suggested by the starting-point. Sounds and sights are startlingly dissected: the varied but compatible sounds of music and warfare, or the colours, forms and sharp angles of refracted light are precisely pinpointed by the almost forensic vocabulary, and underwritten by the lines’ layout. Echoes of Welsh traditions of alliteration and assonance add to the richness of texture. And in this confident, dazzling collection the words work hard, often pushed to their limits with their layers of multiple meaning, they create juddering breaks or smooth transitions, a dark image often lightened by the punning possibilities of such wordplay.
'The attention to structure, the sparing use of words – Davies’ poems are carefully constructed, clever edifices.'
'Walford Davies is adept at noticing things and transforming them in the process of rendering into something rich and strange.'