Catrin Poem Analysis – A Poem by Gillian Clarke Part I

March 15, 2018

Read our expert-written analysis of Catrin by Gillian Clarke

Catrin Poem Analysis – A Poem by Gillian Clarke Part I


I can remember you, child,

As I stood in a hot, white

Room at the window watching

The people and cars taking

Turn at the traffic lights.

I can remember you, our first

Fierce confrontation, the tight

Red rope of love which we both

Fought over. It was a square

Environmental blank, disinfected

Of paintings or toys. I wrote

All over the walls with my

Words, coloured the clean squares

With the wild, tender circles

Of our struggle to become

Separate. We want, we shouted,

To be two, to be ourselves.

Neither won nor lost the struggle

In the glass tank clouded with feelings

Which changed us both. Still I am fighting

You off, as you stand there

With your straight, strong, long

Brown hair and your rosy,

Defiant glare, bringing up

From the heart’s pool that old rope,

Tightening about my life,

Trailing love and conflict,

As you ask may you skate

In the dark, for one more hour.


This intensely personal poem is a mother’s reflection on her changing relationship with her daughter. It does not shy away from talking about the tensions that arise from time to time but simultaneously reaffirms the permanence of unconditional maternal love.

This is also a poem that celebrates the individuality of mother and daughter and their shared characteristics.

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