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We Have Heard Ravens

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Catherine Simmonds has extracted these ‘poems’ from the journals of Dorothy Wordsworth and drawn out the fine lines of these observations and let them sing of their own accord – keen language, verging on haiku. Some of Dorothy’s most beautiful journal writing has been stripped back to reveal the full poetry of her unique voice, speaking to us across two hundred years of the restless, changing seasons of the English countryside.

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Catherine Simmonds has extracted these ‘poems’ from the journals of Dorothy Wordsworth and drawn out the fine lines of these observations and let them sing of their own accord – keen language, verging on haiku. The poems have an immediacy and freshness which takes us by surprise even today. That Dorothy was an inspiration to her more famous brother William is without doubt, and even perhaps to Coleridge. The three of them often went for long walks together in Dorset, Somerset and the Lake District. It is perhaps time to see Dorothy’s own work for what it was, not just an inspiration or a journal but as poetry in its own right. As Catherine Simmonds says in her introduction : “ Dorothy was never one to shy away from taking risks with language and would alter and redraft key descriptive lines in her journal until she was satisfied they rang true. The straightforward almost muscular nature of her writing means that her stylistic legacy strikes at us across the centuries – streamlined and wonderfully, curiously modern. ‘We Have Heard Ravens’ has been drawn up using less than 7000 of her words, a tiny fraction of her original output, and is intended as an experiment and a tribute to an extraordinary English writer who brought her whole self to bear not only upon her writing craft but upon her relationships with those close to her, and who as a result left English literature immeasurably richer.”

Catherine Simmonds was born in 1972 in Shaftesbury, Dorset. She read English and Commonwealth Literature at Stirling and returned to Dorset in 1998 where she works in a freelance capacity for museums, arts organisations, and as a writer and performer of poetry. Her love of Dorset and her interest in literature first brought her into contact with Dorothy’s writing whilst researching the time the Wordsworths’ spent living on the edge of Dorset’s Marshwood Vale.

Her information various – her eye watchful in
minutest observation of nature – and her taste a
perfect electrometer’ wrote the poet Samuel
Taylor Coleridge of his new acquaintance
Dorothy Wordsworth. Her brother, the
poet William Wordsworth, recalled her
influence on him in The Prelude: ‘speaking
in a voice /like a brook / That did but cross a
lonely road, and now / Is seen, heard, felt and caught
at every turn.

Here – some of Dorothy’s most beautiful journal writing has been stripped back to reveal the full poetry of her unique voice – speaking to us across two hundred years of the restless, changing seasons of the English countryside.

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Weight 0.2 kg
Dimensions 24 × 18 × 1 cm

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