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Shards of Light is a collection of previously unpublished poems by Emyr Humphreys. Now in his hundredth year, he has been described as Wales’s foremost novelist of his generation. This newly discovered collection of poems has all the sharpness and incisiveness of thought as if they had been written today. Humphreys scrutinises life with a wry humour, coloured by the experience of his great longevity and grounded in Wales. With a sharpness of thought and a sparseness and frugality of expression – a hallmark of his work – the poems contain a profundity which challenges us to think more deeply about the nature of our being. They fearlessly ask difficult questions of ourselves as to the nature of being within the vastness of creation. The subjects are as varied as is man’s experience, from the vastness of time, space and God’s power, to musings on everyday life leading to old age. Ultimately the reader will find the experience entertaining yet deeply felt, satisfying and rewarding.
In Shards of Light, Emyr Humphreys shows that the bracing interrogations of old-age can be both philosophical and impassioned. These are delicate, tenacious poems, a privilege to read.’
- Angharad Price, Bangor University
‘The light is clear, intellectual, pitiless, but also meditative and redeeming. The shards are the detritus of the long twentieth century of dictators and refugees, slogans and videotape, here forensically dissected in a language which resonates with the poet’s Welsh and European heritage. These fragments he has shored against his ruins ...’
- Ned Thomas, writer and critic
‘The publication of Shards of Light is a major event in Welsh letters. We are fortunate to be able to share in the fruit of a lifetime’s engagement with language and form. Not only is Emyr Humphreys a bilingual polymath, he’s a poet of European stature.’
- Gwyneth Lewis, National Poet of Wales 2005–6
‘Humphreys gifts us in his hundredth year with an evocative collection which is testimony to the fact that old age, like every other stage of life, has its poetry too. ‘A Day in Hand’ reads ‘Awake! There are so few. / This bright coinage is / Going out of circulation’ … but Humphreys’s own hand is still spilling out gems.’
- Emeritus Professor Jane Aaron, University of South Wales
'A writer of genius in a class of his own, Humphreys has created works of profound humanity, seriousness and vision across multiple literary generations. His great triumph is to have been on fire throughout his literary life, and this late collection, in his hundredth year, burns white-hot.’
- Candida Clark, author
‘Humphreys’s poems are startling in their clarity, whether his long view on the precariousness of a Wales ‘for sale’, his now-rare wartime testimony, or reflections on the ineffable ̶ death, enchantment, eternity, evil. A masterful poet, all the more so for understanding that life burns brighter than words.’
- Emily Trahair, editor of Planet magazine
'The stylistic and tonal variation of the collection is testament to the writer’s merit. Humphreys moves from elegiac verse through interior monologue to works of satire and savagely sardonic responses to violence, privilege and corruption.'
- The Welsh Agenda, Elinor Shepley