By W.B. Yeats 

O curlew, cry no more in the air,
Or only to the water in the West;
Because your crying brings to my mind
passion-dimmed eyes and long heavy hair
That was shaken out over my breast:
There is enough evil in the crying of wind. 


Chosen by poet, playwright, editor, translator and former National Poet of Wales, Gillian Clarke.

'One of the most haunting sounds in nature is the piercing crescendo of notes of the spring mating call of the male curlew. The curlew’s desire for his mate wakes Yeats’ longing for his own lost love, her ‘long heavy hair/That was shaken out over my breast’. The poem - one sentence over six rhyming lines - is the ascending cry of the curlew turned to poetry.' 

Gillian Clarke is part of Carol Ann Duffy's merry band of poets currently travelling all over the country for the Shore To Shore poetry tour. For full tour dates and tickets visit

We joined Carol Ann Duffy, Gillian Clarke, Imtiaz Dharker, Jackie Kay and musician John Sampson  on tour for a sneak peek behind the scenes.   


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