'Here at the turn of the leaf a horseman is riding
through the space between one world and another . . .'
The Mabinogi is the Welsh national epic, a collection of prose tales of war and enchantment, adventure and romance, which have long fascinated readers all over the world. Matthew Francis's retelling of the first four stories (the Four Branches of the Mabinogi) is the first to situate it in poetry and captures the magic and strangeness of this medieval Celtic world: a baby is kidnapped by a monstrous claw, a giant wades across the Irish Sea to do battle, a wizard makes a woman out of flowers, only to find she is less biddable than he expected. Permeating the whole sequence is a delight in the power of the imagination to transform human experience into works of tragedy, comedy and wonder.
The Mabinogi is an important contribution to the storytelling of the British Isles.
'I have waited a life for this book: our ancient British tales re-told, in English, by a poet, as they were in their original Welsh. This is more than translation. It picks up the harp and sings.' Gillian Clarke
Matthew Francis is the author of four Faber collections, most recently Muscovy (2013). He has twice been shortlisted for the Forward Prize, and in 2004 was chosen as one of the Next Generation poets. He has also edited W. S. Graham's New Collected Poems, and published a collection of short stories and two novels, the second of which, The Book of the Needle (Cinnamon Press), came out in 2014. He lives in West Wales and is Professor in Creative Writing at Aberystwyth University.