Anne Cluysenaar

1936-2014

These are sad days for all who knew Anne. For her colleagues at Cardiff University who worked with her there are, however, and will remain, warm memories of someone who cared deeply about teaching, about students and especially about poetry and her Wales. All will miss her wisdom and her writing, but above all will miss her as the very real, generous person she was.

Co-founder of the Usk Valley Vaughan Association, publishers of the esteemed literary magazine, Scintilla, Anne was a distinguished poet in her own right. Poised but never feigned, knowing but never cynical, erudite but always accessible, fascinated by timeslips but always contemporary, her poetry smartly married lyricism and control. Her affinity with the metaphysical poet Henry Vaughan (whose beloved Usk Valley Anne made her home) manifests itself in a number of poems. The beginning of one and the end of another – both part of her ‘Vaughan Variations’ – resonate movingly, now, at the time of her sudden death. As a tribute to Anne’s life and liveliness, we quote them here in an order that leaves the reader not with the blank loss of the first, but with the second’s benediction:

After the first shock, days
of (despite myself) thinking
‘it could not have happened’
then raising my eyes and
being astonished instead that
the world was still there
and myself still seeing it.

(From ‘On the Sudden Death of a Friend’s Wife’)

These days, in the valley, the steady bell,
when it steps our way, brings few of us back.
Some literalists. Some hearers of metaphor.

By his tomb, eyes closed, I listed to its beat.
Brood on how births bring change. How a life
may transform other lives by the choices it makes.

. . .

I open my eyes on a wild-flower knot,
made of common species, with a twisted stalk
to hold them together, laid on your tomb.

What a walker might damage. Someone who reads
both you and nature. And would honour both.
A bee is giving its blessing, they’re so fresh!

(From 'Thinking of Denize Morgan Carrying the Vaughan Twins')

- Martin Coyle / Damian Walford Davies