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Review – Matthew Francis, The Mabinogi

Matthew Francis, The Mabinogi, 112 pp, £14.99, Faber & Faber Ltd

A woman who rides slowly but can’t be caught by the fastest galloping horseman; a cauldron that simmers dead warriors to life; a giant king who wades through the sea to make war on Ireland, and whose severed head is buried alive to watch over Britain when his body is killed by a poisonous wound; all the buildings, people and animals of a country stolen in a magic fog; the threat to hang a mouse who’s really the pregnant wife of a powerful magician on a gallows made of two … Continue Reading

Matthew Francis, Muscovy, 80 pp, £12.99 hardback, Faber and Faber

I loved Muscovy for its variety, and for a playfulness of spirit that has its own gravity. In the first poem, based on a seventeenth century tale describing a flight to the moon, the narrator tells us

The moon rested on the mountain, rock on rock –
you might step from one to the other

and indeed he does fly to the moon in an elaborate contraption drawn by geese. Revelling in the exotic and the fantastical, Francis leads us easily from world to world and time to time. In “Things That Make the Heart Beat Faster”, based on The Pillow … Continue Reading