Matthew Francis’s latest collection celebrates the richness of nature and of our responses to it. The pleasures of summer are emblazoned in the colourful wings and evocative names of butterflies, while a nocturnal encounter with an earwig becomes a joyous incantation to the ‘witchy-beetle, forkin-robin’ of dialect. Francis’s love of history, embodied in his acclaimed Mandeville and The Mabinogi, gives rise to a sequence based on Robert Hooke’s microscopic observations. There are tributes to the poets Basho, Dafydd ap Gwilym and W. S. Graham, to fireworks, apple varieties and hot toddies. And, in a moving elegy for a friend killed in a parachute accident, Francis shows us a vertiginous vision of a world where even the dead ‘sleep on the wing’.
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