Biography of Giles Watson
Giles Watson was born in Southampton, but emigrated to Australia with his parents at the age of one, and lived there for the next twenty-five years. In addition to poetry and painting, he writes essays on natural history and mediaeval visual culture, is an avid walker, photographer and amateur naturalist, and has a keen interest in theatre. His academic work has included a doctoral thesis on religion and culture in England during the Second World War. As a secondary school teacher, he has taught English, History, Drama, Sociology and Film. Much of his work is infused with his own idiosyncratic spirituality: awed by nature, steeped in history, and inspired by a quiet sense of the sacramental. He currently lives in rural Oxfordshire, where the landscape, archaeology, flora and fauna provide continual inspiration for his work. He has a daughter living in Australia.
Giles's long-standing fascination with mediaeval poetry has led to a series of paraphrasing and translation projects, including modern English versions of Pearl, The Three Dead Kings, The Anturs of Arther and the works of Dafydd ap Gwilym. He also writes poetry of his own, most of which is inspired by his local environs, and by British folklore. He has a long-standing song-writing partnership with a composer, Kathryn Wheeler. An interest in early scientific expeditions to Australia has been a further inspiration.
Giles Watson's Works:
A Witch's Natural History (Troy Books)
A Kind of Bright Darkness (Lulu)
The Flight of the White Horse (Lulu)
I Sing the Smith (Lulu)
Pearl: a Translation (Lulu)
Dafydd ap Gwilym: Paraphrases and Palimpsests (Lulu)
The Three Dead Kings: a Translation (Lulu)
Beatitudes and other Poems (Lulu)
Parish Ghosts (Lulu)
The Anturs of Arther: a Translation (Lulu)
Giles Watson Poems
'Forget me not, ' I thought you said, and your gaze was straight and true. I wondered, by your garden's edge, could I disremember you?
1. Morrigan There's a way of ripping Roman flesh that only ravens can do. You take
Last winter, incendiaries ignited A bloom of flame in your bedroom, And the gramophone gouged Through ‘Lili Marlene’ one last time
A Kind Of Bright Darkness
There is a stile still standing in the ghost of a hedge, and a broken gate beside it, opening on the pathless nowhere of a ploughed field.
Leaning over a stone bridge, knowing Daubenton’s bats slept beneath me, wrapped in leather, pollard willows, white clouds
The Butcher's Wife
Sometimes the flayed things have spirits. When my husband is drunk in bed, I go down to the cellar to find them, their stripped
Is the moment of sunsplashed brilliance, the walking-in by chance at the time of greatest need. The blessing is swallows alive from Africa, cavorting in English sky.
Stamped with characters of beauty, their veins Like waters at a confluence of streams, arrowheads Point heavenwards. The traceries of their leaves Are essays in divine proportion: three lobes
Beating the bounds of the parish, I saw The old gods on the outskirts, skulking in the woods. It was all moonbreak and sunglow. Woodwales jittered.
Pearl: A Translation
1. Perfect Pearl – prince pleaser – Clear and clasped in precious gold:
I could only speak in the sweet ironies of repetition, So when he said, “Do not touch me, ” I replied: “Touch me, touch me, touch me, touch me, ” and After a while again, “touch me”, till he turned
Black and haloed, my spiller of gold, Stark and hallowed as a gilded ghost, Raptured rhymer of the honeyed throat, Pert proclaimer of embodied thought,
Weed-flesh, wind-wracked, unbleeding Clumped and kicked along the strand. The stench and slickness of it; Holdfasts clench like claws.
I’ll bear with death as a going to ground A bunkering-down, an embracing of loam, My skull in the yew’s root. Weeds on my mound Are heralds bringing a prodigal home.
It beams in at a slant, lending a nimbus
to each thistle and blade of grass. Land
is prone to tilting; time and distance
are seen for what they are: illusions.
Rooks glint white at a moment's glance,
then lapse into silhouettes, pursued
by gilded ravens. Towns turn to vapours.
Horizons are blurred; clouds become hills.