Clyde Holmes

My approach to poetry (and painting) is best expressed by Johnathan Bate in his book 'Song of the Earth': "To be a nature poet (or more aptly an eco-poet) you have to be essentially a dweller or inmate who feels with nature, developing an attunement to the spirit of the place over many years".

Clyde Holmes, 2004

Poetry and painting were united


up here belong
only to sky,
reflections surrendered
to air's silver.
continuum of when
mountains left off trembling.
Wait placidly now
for frog's kick
and snipes bathing.
Time's mirrors spin
from sunset's blood to moon-milk.
Clyde Holmes, 1980

Magpie in Winter

The snow was almost gone,
most of it washed away by heavy rain,
gobbed into bulging watercourses;
it was leaving piebald rock
and sheep changed back
from sallow grey to white again.
His plumage matched the mountain
as if snow, melting on his wing,
released him from frozen stillness.
Clyde Holmes, Published in Featherpaths 2004

Red kite

Audio extract from Homecoming: A Snowdonia Diary

Waterfalls of light(extract)

Written and spoken by Clyde(1989)
  • Seagulls
  • Lighthouse Keeper
  • Dolphins
  • Herons
  • Curlew
A Celtic celebration of wildlife in North Wales
Poems and music in the bardic tradition Music arranged and performed by Chris Knowles and Bernard Barnes.
During his life, Clyde published three poetry collections which portrayed his love of the landscape and wildlife, and Guardian First Book award winner Robert Macfarlane chose Skywalls (1998) to represent Snowdonia in a 2005 Guardian article mapping nature, from south to north. Clydes' poetry was published in numerous magazines and anthologies, including The Honest Ulsterman, Anglo Welsh Review and Birdsong and Footsteps published by Carreg Gwalch 2002. He was also recently elected as a member of the Welsh Academy. But above all, Clyde's poetry was a celebratory act arising from his passion and concern for the rare birds, plants and insects that lived all around.

The bird poems of Clyde Holmes are full of life and colour and movement. He captures the transient essence of each bird in a light handful of words, relating each to place and time of day, so that we enter the poet's world and watch quietly with him as he observes his familiars. These are birds wild and predatory, birds domestic, birds drawn to the human, birds lonely and distant. I loved the storks with their wicker cauldrons, the arctic terns forever on the wing, the Viking fieldfare, the Paradise peacock, the Icarus lapwing, the suicidal wagtail. The classical and historical allusions never overweigh these light and delicate airborne poems: 'Upland Nativity' is a gem of a poem, its religious imagery beautifully and unobtrusively woven together like the nest it describes. I particularly loved the dipper, with 'the swift water jellying round him' - from now on, I shall always think of that phrase whenever I see a dipper. These poems make us see with new eyes, and their phrases will linger in the memory. Magaret Drabble

When Clyde became ill he was compiling an anthology of flower poems. We hope to publish this book soon.

The Featherpaths poetry collection was illustrated by artist Kim Atkinson. Like so many people, she deeply appreciated her visits to Cwm Hesgin.

Monday 24th March
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Dear Clyde,
Thank you for yesterday, it was good to see you and discuss the book and to just spend time with you in your welcoming house. I was in two minds, passing at 6ish whether to drop in, but decided that it would be best to use the last of the lovely evening light to get down through all the gates. I was glad I had done but not without regret.

The Cwm is beautiful I can see your deep rootedness there and its gentle but insistent influence. Probably that might change in other weathers, but there is a lovely feel to it, those crags, screes, rowans, the blue black stream and emerald mosses. Too hazy to see much in the distance to the NE but is was lovely up there, a soft warm breeze. The Llyn was polished by sun and sort of leaf or even feather shaped in its bed of bog grasses. A pair of mallards were there and did I see a merlin's nest in a twisted lakeside tree? Some sort of tatty nest.

Then I went on down to the big transecting wall, amazingly thin for its height, crossed the stream. There big licheny rocks were lovely. Are they volcani? You mentioned Tuff. Found a plucking site, a rained on collection of woodcock feathers. Then on the opposite steep bank below the iron gate what I think were Mistle Thrush or Fieldfare feathers fresher. Possibly even Ring Ousel. Gives me fresh ideas of lichen, moss, feathers patterns for cover.

Wonderful evening, walking into warmer patches of air, a blackbird singing from the clump of willow behind your house. So passing, Cwm Hesgin wondering whether to rush in and enthuse or to continue quietly homeward.

I hope you come to stay soon and enjoy our headland as much as I have enjoyed Cwm Hesgin also that work continues well. Hope to send some photocopies reduced etc soon best wishes