National poet of Wales pens ode to Cardiff's John Lewis


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The Independent Culture

She could have bought one of their birthday cards. But the national poet of Wales Gillian Clarke instead celebrated the third anniversary of Cardiff’s John Lewis store by doing what she does best - writing a poem.

Her ode to the homeware, furniture and clothing store will be plastered all over its windows as part of the store’s autumn window display.

“I like John Lewis, and have bought several things there for our flat in Cardiff.  I am pleased they are willing to support poetry, and to display my poem in this way,” Clarke said.

She has chosen to write about home which John Lewis managing director, Chris Earnshaw, says is “entirely fitting as we stock one of the widest range of homewares in the city centre.”

Clarke has been National Poet for Wales since 2008 and in December 2010 she was awarded the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry, and the Wilfred Owen Award in 2012.

Her latest collection, Ice, has just been published by Carcanet Press.

John Lewis was opened in the St David’s Centre in Cardiff in 2009.  The 170,000 square foot full line department shop is the second largest John Lewis in the UK outside of London.

Read the poem in full:


Evening, home after hours away,

I catch my room out, dreaming,

in a doze at the end of the day,

surprised by blue dusk at the window,

white cups and dishes gleaming,

my chair, my rug, electricity's glow.


This room and I want music, lamplight,

a good book, fresh tea steaming.

Across the evening city home is waking,

in semis, terraced streets, estates,

in quiet suburbs, silence breaking

with TV, kettles, radio,


as one by one the windows light

till every tower-block's an Advent calendar,

countdown to winter and the longest night.