by Martyn Halsall
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Whether he’s considering old settlements and ruins, a search for an elusive butterfly or a painting of migrating birds, Martyn Halsall’s atmospheric poems always honour the human presence in the landscape. A thoughtful and sensitive voice, part celebratory and part elegaic, is accompanied by a powerful descriptive ability.
“Halsall is careful with language, letting apparently simple vocabulary work to great effect between the poems, building up real mapped places and the sound map that each holds.” D.A.Prince, londongrip
“His style is pure, intimate and deep. His voice is distinctive in its classicism and its elegance – each phrase is finely honed…. a great gift for language that is both allusive and elegant.” Richard Lamey, Church Times
Gaelic word for funeral song, for land
lamenting here. Every wind is keening.
Local names are clanned in the soft mounds
of burial grounds, sand within hearing
of surf that soothes them.
Obituaries need translation, guarding
inside sparse indications a whole
code of origin and loss. Sometimes
a snatch of English, for the minister’s widow.
Each horizon’s too far. We start
again from the croft’s garden,
walk down to the loch to watch
for the seal’s arrival.