Gillian Clarke Pens Ode to John Lewis

Posted on 26 October, 2012 by Neil Bird

Gillian Clarke, the National Poet of Wales, has honoured John Lewis with a new poem to mark the third anniversary of its Cardiff branch. Clarke’s tribute is now on display in the department store’s window and she hopes the idea might be extended to other branches across the UK.


Gillian Clarke became the National Poet of Wales in 2008 and was the winner of the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry in 2010. She claims the idea was her own and that she approached John Lewis with the proposal.

She explained; “I said I’ve had a really lovely idea. I’d love to see, when I’m sitting having a coffee at John Lewis in Cardiff, instead of looking at abstract glass, to see a poem there.”

John Lewis was enthusiastic about the proposal and urged the poet to go ahead with the verse.

Clarke is keen to defend herself from any suggestion that she is involved in advertising, saying that; “It is absolutely not the spirit of what I’m doing to make people feel they want stuff, or to feel bad about not having it.”

The ode to John Lewis is entitled ‘Home’ and goes as follows;

Evening, home after hours away,
I catch my room out, dreaming,
in a doze at the end of the day,
surprised by blue dusk at the window,
white cups and dishes gleaming,
my chair, my rug, electricity’s glow.

This room and I want music, lamplight,
a good book, fresh tea steaming.
Across the evening city home is waking,
in semis, terraced streets, estates,
in quiet suburbs, silence breaking
with TV, kettles, radio,
as one by one the windows light
till every tower-block’s an Advent calendar,
countdown to winter and the longest night.

She says she was not paid a great deal for the work and that she’s hopeful John Lewis will consider displaying poetry in other stores. She suggests the names of Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy and the Scottish National Poet Liz Lochhead as other possible contributors.






One response to “Gillian Clarke Pens Ode to John Lewis”

  1. kerin1407 says:

    I found this interesting article while narcissistically looking to see who’s been using my Flickr images. The statue is, appropriately enough, “The Muse of Poetry” by Edward Onslow Ford. No connection with Cardiff, though, as far as I can see – actually it’s in Canterbury..

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