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The Road Home / Gillian Allnutt

Gillian Allnutt is a British poet from the Northeast of the country and the recipient of the Queen's Prize for poetry. This poem is from her Bloodaxe selected poems.

This is clearly a poet sure of her style, later in her life. The loosely rhymed couplets and the big theme. But how briskly she deals with the whole "cul de sac" (notice not hyphenated, leaning us towards the multiples meanings of cul in French) of family history. And also how blithely she sweeps away the "festival/ of literature" that people aspire towards. (Again a masterful use of the broken line: festival (a rave? a party? no...) of literature.) A bathos that seems to mock her stock in trade.

But then that last, breathless line, dragging itself through the clay-like heaviness of all those Ws.( "word...wade..wood...weald..weather") until releasing itself into that last astral space.


It is the road to God

that matters now, the ragged road, the wood.


And if you will, drop pebbles here and there

like Hansel, Gretel, right where


they'll shine

in the wilful light of the moon.


You won't be going back to the hut

where father, mother plot


the cul de sac of the world

in a field


that's permanently full

of people


looking for a festival

of literature, a fairytale,


a feathered

nest of brothers, sisters. Would


that first world, bared now to the word

God, wade


with you, through wood, into the weald and weather

of the stars?

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