To Dylan 2014


Josh Brown: 2016

“To read a poem is to hear it with our eyes; to hear it is to see it with our ears” (Octavio Paz).

“A good poem is a contribution to reality. The world is never the same once a good poem has been added to it” (Dylan Thomas).

‘To Dylan’ and ‘Dylan’s Gower’ are two collections of poetry by Robert Edward Gurney [Bob], a poet and academic who writes in both English and Spanish. They were published by Cambria Books in 2014 for the Dylan Thomas centenary. Although I love poetry, I can only read it in short bursts, a few poems at a time, so it is a mark of their wisdom and easy composition that I read these two volumes in one afternoon.

The poems are driven by a love of Gower, that glorious peninsula with its flawless beaches that curves from Swansea’s Mumbles near where Thomas was born in 1914, and by the poet himself and his tumultuous, controversial life. Gurney lights upon little morsels of both his own and Dylan’s life, the kind of inconsequential truths we too easily overlook, connects them and finds their meaning and importance so that these verses are much more than tributes. “It’s funny”, he observes at the close of ‘Heron’s Way’, “how you can go through life without ever really seeing things as they really are”. But that is what Bob’s poems can do, see the meaning and import in the commonplace that are the markers which index our lives.

Dylan’s childhood was lived on the Gower, in the house in Cwmdonkin Drive where he was born, on his aunt’s farm where he was happiest as a boy and which gave birth to one of his greatest poems, ‘Fern Hill’, and on Rhossili beach. The Gurney family spend their holidays at his parents-in-law’s old house in nearby Port Eynon.

Maybe it is Mr Thomas’s famous love of the pub that causes me to feel that many of Bob’s poems have spun out of bar room anecdotes. They have that feel to them. You can imagine him listening to the ‘old stories’ of the ghosts and local characters of Gower (and Argentina) and then weaving them into his own memories to produce these gentle, beguiling poems. ‘The Poundffald’ remembers Dylan in his New York haunts (imagined indeed as a ghost) then moves through otters in a friend’s stream to her father’s unflattering memory of him (‘worse for wear’), a conventional phrase that captures the poet’s end.

His work is lit with a ‘Welsh’ temperament that makes it a surprise to learn that Robert Gurney was born and schooled in Luton, though being taught Spanish by a Welshman has left its mark on both his career and his poetry, the Patagonian Principle perhaps!

There is a melancholy to many of the poems and a thirst for the magic that illumines the legends of Wales. ‘The Vicar in the Park’ tells of a ‘whiskey priest’, asked to sermon on Dylan Thomas, searching the myths of saint Kenneth (Cenydd) to inspire his congregation, fearing their response and opting for a safer bland message on ‘the family’. It captures perfectly the contradictory forces traditional to Wales, the Celtic romance and the chapel proper!

Dylan Thomas wrote extravagantly, loving the sound and feel of words, combining them in a magnificent creative disregard. He called it ‘the colour of saying’. Eager to follow his example, many of us flounder in an ill-fitted soup, forgetting the “craft” that is essential to the “sullen art”. It comes almost as a shock to find that two volumes of poetry inspired by Dylan are so wonderfully contrasted. It has been said that Bob’s poetry is closer to R.S. Thomas than Dylan or akin to the traditional ‘englynion’ in their sparse wording. Perhaps a career teaching and translating has tutored him in a precision, unlike other poets, just as the asceticism of his faith did for R.S.Thomas. ‘The Shepherd’ exemplifies this, a tragic story simply and briefly stated. Simplicity is the core of poetry, the hard craft Dylan knew.

If there is one fault to these two collections it is possibly that the titles mislead. These are not merely poems ‘about’ Dylan Thomas. These are beautiful, almost whimsical, observations on Dylan, on the glorious Gower and its characters (Milk Wood is often misunderstood in that its characters are nearer to the truth of Wales than it wished, or wishes, to admit) and on the lives we all share. Bob tells me some readers have been disappointed with the dissimilarity to Dylan. But these are lovely, insightful, gentle poems and they stand on their own in that achievement.

Josh Brown, 18 July, 2016. Of Welsh parents, Josh lives in Southsea, UK. He is heavily involved with Portsmouth Poetry:

Dedwydd Jones: 2016

Thank God for Robert Edward Gurney’s two volumes of poetry, To Dylan and Dylan’s Gower, the best collection of Welsh verse since R. S. Thomas. These are short poems like the Japanese haiku or the wonderful Welsh englynion, presenting a world of observation in a few words – as Gurney does – just find the image, fix it, present it and then move on to the next, no messing! And no Dylan imitations either although Gower was Dylan’s backyard where poetry positively ‘flowed through the air’! The poems too celebrate place names as Dylan himself did so brilliantly. The collected titles are poetic in themselves: ‘Port Eynon from Space’, ‘On Llanmadoc Hill’, ‘The Mist’, ‘Crows’ and ‘Fires’, ‘The Tears of St Lawrence’, ‘The Poundffald’, ‘Chatterpies’, ‘The White Lady of Oystermouth Castle’, ‘Walking the Worm’, ‘Dylan and the Monster’, all set firmly in Gower – the best of Wales for a very long time. To Dylan and Dylan’s Gower are an antidote to anyone suffering from the dolorous hiraeth of home, especially the Gower of Cymru. Thank you ROBERT GURNEY.

Dedwydd Jones, playwright, scriptwriter, novelist, poet, journalist, was born in Wales and lives in Bedford. Letter, 8 January 2016.

Gracias a Dios por los tres poemarios de Robert Edward Gurney, Para Dylan [pruebas], una trilogía que comprende A Dylan, La Gower de Dylan y El Rhossili de Dylan, la mejor colección de poesía galesa desde RS Thomas. Son poemas cortos como el haiku japonés o el maravilloso englynion galés, presentando un mundo de la observación en pocas palabras – como lo hace Gurney – sólo encontrar la imagen, arreglarlo, presentarlo y luego pasar a la siguiente, sin trabas! Y no hay tampoco imitaciones de Dylan, aunque Gower fue el patio trasero de Dylan donde la poesía positivamente ‘fluyó a través del aire’! Los poemas también celebran los nombres de lugares, como el propio Dylan hizo tan brillantemente. Los títulos recogidos son poéticos en sí mismos: ‘Port Eynon desde el espacio “,’ Sobre la colina de Llanmadoc’, ‘La niebla’, ‘Cuervos’ y ‘Fuegos’, ‘Las lágrimas de San Lorenzo’, ‘El Poundffald’, ‘Urracas’ , ‘La Dama Blanca del Castillo de Oystermouth’, ‘Caminando por el Dragón’, ‘Dylan y el Monstruo’, todo ello firmemente en Gower – lo mejor del País de Gales desde hace mucho tiempo.
Para Dylan es un antídoto para cualquier persona que sufre de la hiraeth, la nostalgia dolorosa de la patria, especialmente la Gower de Cymru. Gracias ROBERT GURNEY.

Dedwydd Jones, dramaturgo, guionista, novelista, poeta, periodista, nació en Gales y vive en Bedford. Carta, 8 de enero 2016.

Dedwydd Jones: 2016

On To Dylan and Dylan’s Gower:

“Better than anything coming out of Wales at the moment.”

“There is poetry even in the titles.”

“Your poetry reminds me of R.S. Thomas.”

Dedwydd Jones, b. Camarthen, Wales, lives in Bedford, England, playwright, scriptwriter, novelist, journalist, is the author of The Black Book on Welsh Theatre (Foreword by Jan Morris). Personal communication, 5 January, 2016.


Tom Scott (email 29 August 2014)

Bob, from what I have read it is an incredible work. Stunning…you have a wonderful, magical quality in your words..I am so glad that you felt inclined to share with me … honoured actually…

Your poem ‘The Land Of Poets’ invokes me to read so much more.

In the introduction to Poems ‘To Dylan’ you have captured the very essence of actually hearing the words, either by Dylan himself, Burton, Hopkins, or indeed the lamentably missed Philip Madoc.

I am lucky enough to know the areas well, having grown up around Pennard, Mumbles, the surrounding villages and coastline…I can’t help myself from standing at the cliff edge and hearing his words fill my senses…I hope to discover your own poetry, I’m sure it will move me as much as Dylan…

Thankyou so much for getting in contact and sharing…I am intrigued now and want to discover more of your work.

I will certainly and without doubt visit your website over the weekend.

Best wishes,


Tom Scott:


Michael Evans: 2017

My thoughts on Robert Edward Gurney’s books of poems:- ‘To Dylan’ and ‘Dylan’s Gower’:-
These are two very interesting collections of poetry by Robert Edward Gurney. Both are pervaded by an evident affection for, and great knowledge of, Dylan and his work – also of Gower, which Dylan loved so much. The style and vocabulary are deceptively simple, yet the content is often surprising or thought-provoking. Some of the poems have an atmospheric, dream-like quality, with a sense of time passing slowly and unevenly. Robert draws on legends, stories, rumours, anecdotes and mysteries, and he speculates creatively about what might have happened. There’s also a subliminal element, whereby meanings and connections strike the reader some time after reading. I found them intriguing, and well worth reading.
Michael Evans lives in Wales.


Marlene Villatoro, 28 August 2015

On the poem ‘Flores’, ‘Flowers': Me gusta su aliento poético.

Meryl Wilkinson, 2015

On reading ‘To Dylan’ I felt as if I were engaging in a reflective conversation about the life of Dylan Thomas, for reading poetry can sometimes be a solitary or ‘sullen’ occupation, not always appreciated by family and friends. Poetry speaks to its readers in many different ways, but from my own experience of reading ‘To Dylan’ I felt most of the poems had an ethereal quality about them, which reminded me of how I felt when visiting Laugharne some years ago. I would gaze through the window of Brown’s and think ‘is Dylan in there somewhere?’. I visited the Boathouse and felt I had been invited to tea with Dylan and his family. I walked past Dylan’s writing shed expecting to see scrunched up pages of abandoned poetry littering the ground . . So vivid were my thoughts that day! These feelings are truly rekindled in many of the poems in ‘To Dylan’ with phrases like ‘I think it was Dylan’, ‘not far from Dylan’s house’, ‘Dylan’s old coffee bar’ . . . and many more. Robert Gurney has managed, through the power of imagination, to expertly evoke my thoughts and feelings in ‘To Dylan’.

Tony de Sarzec, 31 March 2015

I meant what I said about To Dylan. It takes a lot to please me as far as poetry is concerned. The standards at the present time are very low. The past couple of Poet Laureates have driven me insane. All that descriptive stuff and endless lists. It all lacks music and air. You have to have room to breathe in all art. Most poetry now is only a step above nursery rhyme. Your work has come as a pleasant surprise. I’m looking forward to starting Gower soon.

Tony de Sarzec, 30 March 2015

I’ve just finished “To Dylan” by Robert Edward Gurney. I found the book very evocative. It has many highlights but I was particularly moved by the poems “The Crows”, “Sounds” and “Dicing With Death”. At a point in history in which we are overwhelmed by mediocrity, when every man and his dog are pouring out drivel they claim to be poetry, “To Dylan” is a very accomplished work. Really enjoyed it.

Tony de Sarzec, 25 March 2015

When I read these lines from “The Crows” by Robert Edward Gurney yesterday they really resonated and caused deep reverberations. Marvellous.

“They call out over The Ship
Where Dylan drank
And watched them through the portholes
Planning a night of passion.”

The full poem can be found in Bob’s collection “To Dylan”.

Tony de Sarzec is a former DJ and record shop manager. He went from there to be a writer, musician (drums and percussion) and record producer. He produced the album entitled Was There A Time – A Selection of Poems and Short Stories by Dylan Thomas Read by Philip Madoc. It was released by The Talking Tape Company in 1992 as a companion piece to George Martin’s production of “Under Milk Wood”.

On To Dylan on Kindle: Love this book
By Meryl Wilkinson on 29 Aug 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Love this book. Love all the references to Dylan and his life and his poetry – made me feel I know this great wordsmith – so innovative and refreshing.

Books available from:

Photo of the author at the 2014 Eisteddfod launching To Dylan at the Dylan Thomas Writing Shed:



With Jeff Towns, Dylan’s Shed, Eisteddfod, Llanelli, 2014:



to Arthur Rimbaud

Sitting high up
on the cliff
at Worm’s Head,
I watch
the sun setting.

A red stain
is vanishing
behind a curtain of grey.

Little by little
the sea disappears.

The sea leaves
with the sun,
whispers Rimbaud.

Robert Edward Gurney

The Mist
to Thomas Gray (1716-1771)
and Vernon Watkins (1906-1967)

The sea-mist rolls in
obliterating the landscape.

The first to go is the sea,
then sand dunes as big as pyramids.

It creeps up the road
erasing ‘The Captain’s Table’
and ‘The Ship’
where Dylan once drank.

The tree tops disappear,
then the cliffs.

All that is left
are some marks in the sky,
the crows that are hovering
without moving.

And through the mist can be heard
as clear as the church bell
the sad tolling of the buoy
in Overton Mere.

Robert Edward Gurney

‘The Mist’ (To Dylan, pages 21-22) appears also in the Summer 2014 issue of the literary arts magazine Third Wednesday, Ypsilanti, Michigan. Editor: Laurence W. Thomas.

The Pawn Shop

Beauty runs a Pawn Shop
and accepts just the hearts of men.
When the time comes to recover them
she has shut up shop.

Chu Siang (1904-1933)

I went looking
for the Pawn Shop
in Bute Street,
to try to redeem
the manuscript
of some poems
about a love affair
that I left there
forty years ago.

The street
was no longer there.

In its place
they have built
an American-style
shopping mall.

Robert Edward Gurney

John Goodby:

“A lovely, touching tribute.”

Swansea, 24 September, 2014.
John Goodby is the author of The Poetry of Dylan Thomas: Under the Spelling Wall, Liverpool University Press, Liverpool, 2013.


By Chema Rubio Velasco, Poet

Ian Gibson supervised his doctoral thesis. Juan Larrea paid for his taxi the day they met. Robert Gurney is an English poet who writes in Spanish.

In addition to establishing the path of his doctoral thesis on Juan Larrea (The Poetry of Juan Larrea, University of London, 1975), Gibson was responsible for the presentation in Madrid of Gurney’s book The Dragonfly and Other Poems. A bilingual book. Lord Byron Editions, Collection Prometheus Unbound. 2013. Of that evening, here is an extract of what the poet Leo Zelada said: “The moving words of Ian Gibson talking about his friend and former student at the University of London, was a truly intimate moment.” But in the absence of these words which may have been recorded but which I do not have to hand, we do have Zelada talking about book The Dark Room and Other Poems edited by Lord Byron in 2OO8: “The Poetry of Robert Gurney belongs to the best English tradition, with its verbal clarity and skilled handling of colloquial language. Nonetheless one notes the outpouring of a poetics of intensity, peculiar to the best Latin American poetry. Tradition and modernity intermingle to harmonious effect in this volume of poetry.”

Marta Zabaleta, in the newspaper Colatino in El Salvador writes [of the poem ’The Pram’]: “Short, precise words that describe a hair-raising scene, captured in the clarity of a moment, make the reader want to embrace the child still trapped in the suffering of his young mother.”

And to end with the voices of others that speak of Robert Gurney, we give way to the Argentinian poet Andrés Bohoslavsky, who writes the prologue and selects the poems for the book Poemas a la Patagonia. Among other sincere words we read: “Robert Gurney, the man. To be honest, I write these lines for a friend. And writing it it sounds strong. Almost as much as when saying it. So I prefer, first, to talk about him. And to tell you a few things. Bob was among the few who rescued me from a dark period with respect to poetry. Abandoned and lacking belief in the “salons”, the “inner sactums” and finally in the value of literature, I am drawn out this dark territory, as Chekhov would say, better than me.”

Robert Gurney has the voice of Dylan Thomas so embedded in his head that the Welsh poet seems to come alive again and speak.

If we are what we live, Gurney, as a poet and one who identifies with Wales, is also Dylan. United by the same air where poetry becomes firm against the winds touting the placing of the economy on the altar, against the tides that rise at the foot of pharaonic constructions polluting the sea and the dunes, against all that is harmful for hearts brought up in the immortal music of our ancestors’ hearts, so, for that, he writes, for those who can not say anything.

On each page that unique voice emerges drawing on others’ experiences and his own at the same time, and also, at times, the voice of Dylan Thomas. Yet it is a special Dylan, recognizable because he is the Welshman all his readers know, but at the same time special and unique. Many specialists can speak of his poetry and his history but none can reveal him like Robert Gurney today through good original poems.

Our poet has had Dylan deep inside in his head since he was a child when heard him on the BBC and in the voices of famous actors such as Anthony Hopkins, Richard Burton, or that of a great friend, Philip Madoc, who has inspired him in more than one poem.

When he writes, he often hear Dylan’s voice echoing in his mind and as he imagines it, the poem he is writing with his hands grows, as if dictated by him. That Dylan, whom he sees arguing with his friends in the Kardomah (The Poetry Society) in Swansea, whom he sees reciting, whom he sees smoking and drinking one by one the 18 whiskies he drank the day he died.

Robert Gurney is a poet of obsessions, fine incorruptible obsessions, where the dreams of human beings can be achieved or at least sung. One is the one we have been discussing, which gives the title to the book To Dylan and the other is Patagonia. This is a poem that brings together two of his magical obsessions in his latest book.

The Land of Poets

It was midnight.

25 degrees below zero.

The bus broke down
on the road between
Trelew to Esquel
in a place called

There were wild dogs

I thought I heard Dylan
whisper in my ear:

“This is a country
where they take poets
very seriously.”

I think the same way as this poet named Robert Gurney, that we poets are taken very seriously in nobody’s land. Sometimes we are like wild dogs putting a microphone to our pain which sometimes coincides with the same pain as the world’s. In his case it coincides more often, because he is a pure poet and I am not talking about his poetic form, I mean the song of his sensibility. His song is an ode to that which is lost or that which we are about to lose, to that which is still breathing, because we are talking about life.

Another of his obsessions is Patagonia, an obsession that I share with him and with the writer born in Esquel, Osvaldo Bayer, who wrote a wonderful book called La Patagonia Rebelde. In the Andes mountains lush forests proliferate and to their right is the land of the Pampas, where dryness becomes Argentinean desert.

Patagonia is a place of extraordinary lakes, high mountains and in Ushuaia there is the End of the World Train. Then the land ends and the sea begins and on crossing it, a few hours later, we are in Antarctica. Such is the nature of his poetry that he takes us, reading after reading, beyond the known world without fear.

Robert Gurney knows Argentina, the first time he set foot there was around 1971-72. In those years the tension was unbearable between the students and the military, bombs started going off in some cities and there were the first concentration camps, though they were secret.

In this difficult context Robert Gurney conducts 36 interviews with the father of Spanish surrealism, Juan Larrea, the third of his obsessions.

And this poem reflects the first time he went to interview him to Argentina, in response to my question of how he met him:

Juan Larrea’s Taxi in Argentina

Did you meet the poet Robert Alifano,
when you were in Buenos Aires?
asked the poet Chema Rubio.

I never met him, I said.

I passed quickly through the capital.

The taxi driver picked me up
at Ezeiza.

He had a green Ford Falcon
without number plates.

Why have you come to Argentina?
he asked.

To talk to a poet,
I said politely.

To talk to a poet?
he repeated incredulously.

Yes, to talk to a poet.
He did not believe me.

Passing through red light area
he offered me his sister.

He pointed at the door of a bar.
I declined graciously.

I thanked him,
while declining his offer.

When we stopped at the bus terminal
for the buses going into the interior
he robbed me
of nearly everything I was carrying.

Larrea had to help me.

No, I didn’t spend much time,
in Buenos Aires.

Just as the land of Patagonia ends up giving life to the sea and to the ice of Antarctica, the poet Robert Gurney ignores banditry and grows stronger each trip. Talking to him is like hearing him read those little stories that he has had to live through and has had to tell. He takes us in his latest book exploring the outer roads of Patagonia, to the people who cross his path and thinkers and poets, who are already in another world, like the excellent writer Juan Larrea, who will be as a lighthouse lighting the seas at night to take care of those who may be shipwrecked drifting into his shores.

And with me remains Gurney’s slow light speaking to us in Madrid about Dylan Thomas and his journeys to Argentina, which is a common place in my life, sitting there with the poets Alvaro Guijarro, Silvia, Jose A. Pamies, and Leo Zelada . That was in 2010, when the economic crisis began to intensify and we were celebrating the Centenary of an irreducible honored poet, Miguel Hernández.

Talking with the Englishman Robert Gurney is to talk with a fiercely human man, as the poet would sing, but I see him as a good man in the best sense of the word good, as our Antonio Machado would have rendered judgement.. There are poems where the reader finds a new horizon and others where the heart stands still. The thread of thought while still analysing pulsates to the beat of the blood that has been in the unknown longing of a man who reads for the first time and who sees Robert Gurney’s father, as if you were there in the British Isles, silently.

The poem is titled ‘The hospital”.

The Hospital

My father was
on the top floor
of the Luton and Dunstable

He was suffering

He whispered
that he wanted
to jump out
of the window.

I asked him not to
in case
there was someone
down there.

I thought I saw a smile
on his lips.

And biting our lip so that joy does not escape, brushing against nostalgia prematurely, after saying farewell, we go our separate ways.

And I leave you with the poem ‘The White Lady’ which Robert Gurney gave us for the volume Los Poetas de la Senda, The Poets of the Path and which is dedicated to his friend Ketty Alejandrina Lis. *

Goodbye teacher, see you soon, I say, while remembering that Dylan Thomas-related poem that I never tire of rereading, ‘La muter de blanco’, ‘The White Lady':

The White Lady

to Ketty Lis

The night was as black as a bible.

We were driving down a lane in Wales

when I thought that I almost saw her in my headlights

the white lady

sitting on a gate.

I didn’t know who she was

or what she meant.

She seemed to be mourning

the theft of the stone circle

from the field behind her.

Then I thought I saw Dylan

shuffling towards a village

in search of cigarettes from a machine that was


Then a barn owl with white wings

as broad as my car

attracted by my lights

swooped down, nearly smashing the windscreen.

I stopped

there was nothing.

I don’t know what this means

but I can intuit it.

A friend of mine, who lives in Rosario,

says the white lady is poetry.
I remember having seen her


in a poem by Rimbaud

about a waterfall.

I must look for the book by Robert Graves

about this.

Suddenly I remember that I’m talking to Thomas Graves in Deia, finishing the meal and walking towards the house that was that of his father, Robert Graves. He says “Look there’s my mother,” and I see a woman in black in the sun. I see her like life, as she is, and suffering. And I think of the woman in white, as she was, and they always come back to me, those visions of an extraordinary poet named Robert Gurney.

Chema Rubio, Madrid, 28th September, 2014
(For the Spanish original of this article please scroll down to bottom.)

Dr Robert Havard, poet and artist, formerly Professor of Spanish at Aberystwyth:

I woke early this morning and read To Dylan with interest and pleasure. I like your light touch and gentle humour, also a number of the Gower poems especially, for like you I married someone from the area. You offer an evocative tribute to Dylan yet weave this into your own life experiences with unassuming ease. It probably helps that your own style is at the other end of the spectrum from his crafted if not exactly sullen art, for, crucially, there is no sense of plagiarism here. Poems like ‘The Mist’ and ‘Infinity’ have strikingly simple yet strong imagery, while ‘The Pawn Shop’ also struck a chord, your native Luton being in its own way another ‘lovely, ugly town’. Bravo!

Aberystwyth, 23 September, 2014. Robert is a leading authority on modern Spanish poetry. For an example of his work see ‘Sea Games’ at the bottom of this page.

Former Honorary Lecturer at Swansea University Robert Gurney releases new collection of Dylan Thomas influenced poetry

By South Wales Evening Post | Posted: September 14, 2014

Former Honorary Lecturer at Swansea University Robert Gurney has just released his new collection of poetry, influenced by the words of Dylan Thomas. He talks to Mark Rees about it.

The immortal words of Dylan Thomas have held a lifelong fascination for former Swansea University Honorary Lecturer Robert Gurney.

And this year, to mark the centenary of the poet’s birth, he’s taken his passion a step further than most and compiled a collection of his poems, entitled To Dylan, in tribute to Swansea’s most famous son.

“I first came across Dylan through the BBC,” recalls Robert, when pinpointing his first brush with the bard.

“I think he was on the Third Programme. This now abandoned channel was crammed with interesting things. It was Dylan’s voice that first caught my imagination, then Under Milk Wood, then the poems.

“From about 1970 onwards I made a point of looking for books on Dylan in Swansea and elsewhere.”

But it wasn’t only Dylan’s own words that influenced Robert. Words written about Dylan also played an important part of the attraction.

“I have found the biographies to be powerful sources of inspiration,” he says.

“I lectured on French, Spanish and Latin American poetry at Middlesex University and perhaps because of that people have been keen to tell me their Dylan stories over the years. At one point I did a thorough study of Gower dialect, interviewing many people and we would sometimes chat about him.”

In fact, the peninsula might even give Robert a direct family link to Dylan.

“It is possible, probable, that my father-in-law, Dr George Donovan, the MOH for Llwchwr and Gower, gave him medical check-ups at his secondary school,” he says.

While back in the present day, there is a more recent family connection with the new book as well, with Robert’s son William providing the artwork for the cover of his collection.

“Both my sons, James and William, are artists. They probably get that gene from my wife’s great-grandmother who was one of Wales’s leading artists, Ada Lansdown Williams-Miller.

“Ada’s tiles can be seen at the Warpool Hotel in St David’s where she lived. It was her house before it became a hotel. Her tiles, I understand, decorate the White House in America. It’s a long story.”

Prior to To Dylan, Robert’s previously published work includes Poems to Patagonia, which was originally printed in Spanish. But how did the idea of a book dedicated solely to Dylan come about?

Robert traces it back to a tidy-up of his desktop PC.

“I resisted modern technology for quite a long time,” he explains.

“Then, in the late 1990s I became a convert. I began to transfer more and more of my material into folders. I decided to name them Poems to Patagonia, Poems to Spain, Poems to London and so on.

“I felt I needed to write a tribute to Dylan, a poet who has had a big impact on me, for the centenary.

“I looked into the Poems to Wales folder and saw that there were approaching fifty that referred to Dylan. I selected thirty-six and then put them in a certain order.

“I could see that they followed, almost chronologically, a narrative, one in which I could see that I was defending Dylan and trying to correct the black legend that has been developing of late.

“The image on the front cover created by my son William attempts to depict the young, idealistic Dylan. It relates to the poem ‘My Son’s Dream’. The words of the poem are inscribed in the image.

“The poems were written during the 2002 to 2014 period. Many of them appeared first in Spanish in Argentina and elsewhere in Latin America and Spain. The last one, based on a local legend, poem 36, ‘The White Lady of Caswell Bay’, was written on the day that the first draft of this book was completed, 28 June 2014.”

• To Dylan is available now from Cambria Books.

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On sale at shops in Gower in August 2014: Shepherd’s in Park Mill, The Lamplighter in Bishopston, the new Cariad Caffi in Penclawdd, Herons’ Way Filling Station in Llanridian, Crofty Stores, The Smugglers Restaurant and The Smugglers Gift Shop in Port Eynon, Reynoldston Post Office and the Ceri Richards Gallery in Swansea in or from the publisher (see below) and the author: From 10 September 2014 approved by the Welsh Books Council and available from main bookshops.

It is the sound of Dylan’s voice, the sound of his poetry read aloud, either by Dylan himself, many years ago, on the BBC or by another Welsh person, by Anthony Hopkins, by Richard Burton, or by a friend of mine, the late Philip Madoc, that has inspired me. When I write a poem I often hear Dylan’s voice in my head. It is sonorous, baritone, deep and it echoes in the mind. A poem in which I heard Dylan’s voice or, if you like, that I wrote with Dylan’s voice seemingly articulating the words in my head, was ‘Sounds’. It describes the sounds of my home town that I heard when I was growing up. I dispense with punctuation in much of the poem as the sounds drift in and out of my memory. As I often hear or imagine Dylan’s voice when I am writing, I also often imagine Dylan doing something or other. I see him debating with his friends in the Kardomah (both the old and the new) in Swansea, for example (‘The Toddington Poetry Society’, ‘The Kardomah’).

A gentleman, the JP in one of the Kardomah poems, who lives on a farm to the north of Swansea in a place called Cwmgwili, said to me of Poetry some ten years ago: “It flows though the air” [in Wales]. I tend to think that it flows through the air in many places, not all,  but it is true that it is almost tangible in Wales.

Cambria Books has posted a new item, “To Dylan poetry ebook available”. The new book of poems by Robert Gurney inspired by Dylan Thomas, the Welsh poet, whose Centenary is being celebrated this year, is now available as  an eBook from Amazon. The print version is available shortly either direct from Cambria Books or your local bookshop. You may view the latest post at:

Launched at the 2014 Eisteddfod in Llanelli, 1- 9 August, Cambria Books and Cambria Magazine Stand:


Sally and Sam Gurney:

Congratulations, and what a lovely surprise to receive your latest book of poetry with William’s brilliant cover design.

Sam and I thought your poems and William’s cover combined well to express the melancholic vision of a poet whose attempts to find a stability through the power of language were constantly undermined by the violent inundations of emotion.

Kingsbridge, South Devon, 15 September 2014

Places we are losing, voices we are finding

On the poetry of Robert Gurney in “To Dylan”

By Ramón Minieri

For several days now I have been reading this book by Bob Gurney. As only happens with true poetry, I know I will never stop reading it – I mean listening to it, seeing it. The book will be there, on a shelf in the library, but I shall return to it again to find a certain word, a certain phrase, an image, that throbs and illuminates.

Bob and Dylan are two poets who are dear to me. And in “To Dylan,” the two are present, discussing and talking, in counterpoint or in chorus.

Because this is a poetry of voices. The writing, that which is traced on the page, is the vehicle of a voice. You have to read these words aloud. I’ve heard the recording of Dylan reading “Do not go gentle into that good night”: like that, in that tone, that decision, is how you have to read these poems, as an incantation.

They are not etherial, intangible voices. They have flesh, they have weight and physical resonance, because they are born in a particular body. I hear the voice of Dylan in places where he walked, where he walks – and Bob finds him. Even if I had not heard that recording, the rhythms the writing transmits tell me that, as people say here, it “sings while it speaks”, with a curve that rises and falls, breaks and drops.

The voices are not in the imagination, but in certain places. Bob’s poetry is a poetry of concrete places, it does not fall into abstraction. The walls of the pub, the yews and the cliffs of Port Eynon, the waters of the pool and that heron in Gower, the Ship, the meadow near Gorseinon, the King’s Head inn, Brown’s, the pawnbroker in Bute Street, the Oystermouth cemetery … Bob Gurney’s poetic country deserves a choreography, with all the places visited by his White Lady. In those specific places poetic stories occur; they then become mythical places, like the famous Kardomah: although it has been destroyed and rebuilt, poetry keeps it safe.

The places are not immutable. The place that was in the memory is exposed to some loss. I think this is a theme that is strongly present in Gurney’s poetry. Just as the tide carries a photo away, so everything is carried away, Bob and Dylan and their loved ones, so too the tide of time carries away the sounds of one era after another (Sounds), just as the meadow where Dylan played is supplanted by a development of luxury homes. That which happened to Dylan’s papers that were in the Boathouse (The Bonfire), the clock that is no longer wound (Sounds) make one feel painfully that loss. And I’m back to Sounds, which is for some reason for me a key to Bob’s poetics and to this book.

These pages create something in his reader that seems to me to be the property of true poetry: one has to go around the world in order to come back and find oneself here. It is not difficult to read and feel what Robert Gurney says; but it is always possible to dig and look deeper, because there is a discreet wealth of references that can lead us to Rimbaud, Huidobro, Garcia Lorca, and more than once to Patagonia, to his close friend and great poet, Andy Bohoslavsky.

Personally, I owe to this book and its author an extensive learning journey through the mythically beautiful country of Wales, and an encounter with Robert Gurney’s friends in a sort of invisible Kardomah. Not only those who are with us now, nor even the most recent: here I came across Thomas Gray, with whom I promise to talk more often; and all the creators of music, images and words that the book alludes to.

There is surely more to say of this poetics, which opens a window to let a dragonfly out, and with that gesture installs the small place of the poet as a point in the cosmos. There is surely more, but I have to keep on reading – I mean, feeling and listening to this poetry.

Ramón Minieri
Colorado River, Patagonia, August 2014.

Translation of:

Lugares que se pierden, voces que se encuentran

Sobre la poesía de Robert Gurney en “To Dylan”

Hace varios días que estoy leyendo este libro de Bob Gurney. Como sólo sucede con la verdadera poesía: sé que nunca dejaré de leerlo – quiero decir de escucharlo, de verlo. El libro va a estar ahí, en un anaquel de la biblioteca, pero volveré a él para encontrar otra vez determinada palabra, cierta frase, una imagen, que palpitan e iluminan.

Bob y Dylan son dos poetas queridos para mí. Y en “To Dylan”, los dos están presentes, dialogando o hablando, en contrapunto o en coro.

Porque esta es una poesía de voces. La escritura, lo que está trazado sobre la página, es el vehículo de una voz. Hay que leer en voz alta estas palabras. He escuchado la grabación de Dylan en la lectura de “Do not go gentle into that good night”: así, con ese tono, esa decisión, es como hay que decir estas poesías, como una incantación.

No son voces aéreas, inmateriales. Tienen carnadura, tienen peso y resonancia física, porque nacen en un cuerpo concreto. Escucho la voz de Dylan en los lugares por donde anduvo, por donde anda – y Bob lo encuentra. Aunque no hubiera oído esa grabación, los ritmos que transmite la escritura me señalan que, como dice aquí la gente, “habla con tonada”, con una curva que se alza y desciende, estalla y disminuye.

Las voces no están en la imaginación, sino en ciertos lugares. La poesía de Bob es una poesía de lugares concretos, no cae en la abstracción. Las paredes del pub, los tejos y los acantilados de Port Eynion, las aguas del estanque y esa garza de Gower, el Barco, el prado cerca de Gorseinon, la posada de King’s Head, Brown’s, la casa de empeños en Bute Street, el cementerio de Oystermouth… Merece una corografía el país poético de Bob Gurney, con todos los lugares visitados por su Dama Blanca. En esos lugares concretos suceden historias poéticas; pasan a ser entonces lugares míticos, como el célebre Kardomah: aunque haya sido derribado y reconstruído, la poesía lo guarda indemne.

Los lugares no están inmóviles o intocados. El lugar que estaba en la memoria se expone a alguna pérdida. Me parece que este es un tema de fuerte presencia en la poesía de Gurney. Como la marea se lleva una foto, y es como que se lleva todo, también a Bob y a Dylan y a los suyos, así también la marea del tiempo se lleva los sonidos de una época tras otra (Sounds), así también el prado donde Dylan jugaba es suplantado por un barrio de viviendas de lujo. Lo sucedido con los papeles de Dylan que estaban en la Boathouse (The Bonfire), el reloj al que ya no se le dio más cuerda (Sounds), hacen sentir dolorosamente esa pérdida. Y he vuelto a Sounds, que por algún motivo es para mí una cifra de la poética de Bob y de este libro.

Estas páginas hacen con su lector algo que también me parece propio de la poesía verdadera: uno tiene que dar la vuelta al mundo para venir a encontrarse aquí mismo. No es difícil leer y sentir lo que Robert Gurney nos dice; pero siempre es posible buscar y buscar, porque hay una discreta riqueza de referencias que nos puede llevar a Rimbaud, a Huidobro, a García Lorca, y más de una vez a la Patagonia, a su entrañable amigo y gran poeta Andy Bohoslavsky.

Personalmente, le debo a este libro y a su autor un extenso viaje de aprendizaje por el míticamente bello país de Gales, y una reunión con los amigos de Robert Gurney en una especie de Kardomah invisible. No sólo los que están ahora, ni siquiera los más recientes: aquí me encontré a Thomas Gray, con quien prometo conversar más seguido; y con todos los creadores de músicas, imágenes y palabras que el libro convoca.

Seguramente hay más para decir de esta poética, que abre una ventana para que salga una libélula, y con ese gesto instala el pequeño lugar del poeta como un punto en el cosmos. Seguramente hay más, pero yo tengo que seguir leyendo – quiero decir, sintiendo y escuchando esta poesía.

Ramón Minieri
Río Colorado, Patagonia, agosto de 2014.

Ese poema [‘The Land of Poets’] que aparece en la página, me acertó en el corazón.  Es de apariencia tan simple, y tan pleno de significados, y tan conmovedor.

That poem that appears on the [To Dylan] page [], it hit me right in the heart (soul). It is simple in appearance, and so full of meaning, and so moving.

Ramón Minieri, poet, 27 July 2004 , Río Colorado, Argentina.
In this case, the “heart” in the commentary that I dared to send, is also saying “plexus”. Because what I felt when I read that poem of yours [‘The Land of Poets’ – see below], was a blow to the plexus in the diaphragm. The feeling of being without air for a moment. But it was too far-fetched perhaps to use those terms, plexus, diaphragm.
En este caso, ese “corazón” en el comentario que me atreví a enviarte, está diciendo también “plexo”.  Porque lo que sentí al leer esa poesía tuya [‘The Land of Poets’ – see below], fue un golpe en el plexo, en el diafragma. La sensación de quedarte por un momento sin aire. Pero quedaba demasiado rebuscado quizás usar esos términos, plexo, diafragma.
Ramón Minieri, 3 August, 2014.



Tom Scott, Richard Burton Museum

Bob, from what I have read it is an incredible work. Stunning…you have a wonderful, magical quality in your words … I am so glad that you felt inclined to share with me … honoured actually …
Your poem ‘The Land Of Poets’ invokes me to read so much more.
In the introduction to Poems ‘To Dylan’ you have captured the very essence of actually hearing the words, either by Dylan himself, Burton, Hopkins, or indeed the lamentably missed Philip Madoc.
I am lucky enough to know the areas well, having grown up around Pennard, Mumbles, the surrounding villages and coastline… I can’t help myself from standing at the cliff edge and hearing his words fill my senses…I hope to discover your own poetry, I’m sure it will move me as much as Dylan …
Thank you so much for getting in contact and sharing … I am intrigued now and want to discover more of your work.
I will certainly and without doubt visit your website over the weekend.
Best wishes,

Tom Scott, Sweden, 29 August 2014

To Dylan. Poems by Robert Gurney


OUT August 2014 : Print Book ISBN 978-0-9928690-3-8


‘To Dylan’ a book of poems by Robert Gurney follows the Welsh poet Dylan Thomas around Gower, in Port Eynon, Horton, Rhossili, Reynoldston, Llangennith and on Cefn Bryn but also outside Gower, in Swansea, Oystermouth, Gorseinon, Laugharne and London.

Purchase the eBook direct

£2.50 – Kindle ready eBook download

Poems from To Dylan to be published in an Ann Arbor magazine this summer (2014):

‘Infinity’, ‘The Mist’ in Third Wednesday, A Quarterly Journal of Poetry, Prose and Art, Ann Arbor, Michigan, Summer 2014. Editor Laurence W. Thomas. Address: Third Wednesday, 174 Greenside Up, Ypsilanti, MI 48197.Email:

Sample Poem:

The Land of Poets


It was midnight.


25 degrees below zero.


The bus broke down

on the road between

Trelew to Esquel

in a place called


There were wild dogs



I thought I heard Dylan

whisper in my ear:


“This is a country

where they take poets

very seriously.”


2006: Poems read in context of ‘Translating Bohoslavsky’, a paper given before The Department of Hispanic Studies, Swansea University, 29 November, 2006: ‘The Poet’s Garden’, translation of ‘El jardín del poeta’ (first published in the Spanish original: 2005 – ‘El jardín del poeta’ in Isla Negra 2/28, Casa Virtual de poesía y literaturas, Abril, 2005, p. 5. Nuoro, Sardegna. Dirección: Gabriel Impaglione; and also: ‘El jardín del poeta’, ‘La mujer de blanco’ in Poéticas, Sección Directorio, Abril, 2005, p. 5.  Editora Ketty Lis Rosario, Argentina; Also included: ‘Stars’ (unpublished), translation of my poem ‘Estrellas’.

The Poet’s Garden


In the middle of the desert

far from General Roca

at the foot of a gas turbine


there is a garden.


Nothing else.


It is an oasis

in the middle

of nowhere.


It measures ten meters

by five.


It contains daisies,

two contorted willow trees

and an English lawn.


He goes there

to write.


He’s the only one

in charge

of looking after it.

Robert Edward Gurney

Original version in Spanish:


El jardín del poeta


En el medio del desierto

lejos de General Roca

al pie de una turbina de gas


hay un jardín.


No hay nada



Es una oasis

en el medio

de la nada.


Mide diez metros

por cinco.


Contiene margaritas,

dos sauces eléctricos,

y una gramilla inglesa.


Va allí

para escribir.


Es el único

que se encarga

de cuidarlo.




Shooting Stars

  to Analía Pascaner

A friend of mine in Argentina

tells me that watching the stars

makes her feel dizzy


that when she looks up

at an empty space in the sky

a star can appear


and when she observes

one above the mountains

it seems to disappear


and that, sometimes,

the Milky Way seems to move.


I haven’t seen that yet,



The sky is orange

above Swansea

but you can still see

the stars in Port Eynon.


I have seen

sixty  burning tears

of St Lawrence

falling from the sky

above the village.


Robert Edward Gurney



The White Lady, The Photograph, The Heron, The Crows, Words on Water, The Da VinciCode, Dylan’s Bay,  The Shepherd, The Mist, Dylan at Play, The Toddington Poetry Society, The Chinese Worker, The Harlequin, Sounds, Prize Giving, Port Eynon From Space, The Bonfire, The Pawn Shop, Brown’s, The King’s Head, Under Milk Wood, Dylan and Diana, The White Ladies of Carmarthen, Infinity, The Witch, Arthur’s Stone, The Way We Are Now, The Land of Poets, Rhossili, My Son’s Dream, Dicing With Death,  A Post Card from Ushuaia. 



The White Lady

 To my friend Ketty Lis


The night was as black as a bible.

We were driving down a lane in Wales

when I thought that I almost saw her in my headlights,

the white lady, sitting on a gate.


I didn’t know who she was

or what she meant.


She seemed to be mourning

the theft of the stone circle

from the field behind her.


Then I thought I saw Dylan

shuffling towards a village

in search of cigarettes from a machine that was



Then a barn owl with white wings

as broad as my car

attracted by my lights

swooped down, nearly smashing the windscreen.


I stopped.

There was nothing.


I don’t know what this means

but I can intuit it.


A friend of mine, who lives in Rosario,

says the the white lady is poetry.


I remember seeing her once

in a poem by Rimbaud

about a waterfall.


I must look for the book by Robert Graves about this.


Robert Edward Gurney


The Photograph


I sat down

on the beach

in Port Eynon.


I put the photograph down

on the sand.


It was of a friend

and his father

by a lake in Bariloche.


I thought of Dylan

and his father

and of me and mine.


I fell asleep.


When I woke up

the tide had come in

and the photo

was disappearing

beneath the water.

Robert Edward Gurney


The Mist

to Thomas Gray (1716-1771)

and Vernon Watkins (1906-1967)


The sea-mist rolls in

obliterating the landscape.


The first to go is the sea,

then sand dunes as big as pyramids.


It creeps up the road

erasing ‘The Captain’s Table’

and ‘The Ship’

where Dylan once drank.



The tree tops disappear,

then the cliffs.


All that is left

are some marks in the sky,

the crows that are hovering

without moving.


And through the mist

can be heard

as clear as the church bell

the sad tolling of the buoy

in Overton Mere.


Robert Edward Gurney




I remember

the sound

of the Town Hall Clock.


On a good day

you could hear it

a couple of miles away.


The town was full
 of sounds:


the rooks

in Lovers’ Lane


the news vendor

on the corner

opposite The Brewery Tap

who did bird whistles

while waiting to sell

the next paper


the sirens warning

of an impending attack


tea break time at Vauxhall

announced by a fanfare

of trumpets


then the chimes

to say that the break

was over


in the fifties and sixties

you had to put your hands

over your ears

when the wind tunnel started up

at the airport

(there was talk
of secret missiles)


the hum

of the M1

In the distance


the chimes of the Westminster clock

that sat on our mantle-piece

imitating Big Ben

which I haven’t rewound

since my parents died.


Robert Edward Gurney



                            to Arthur Rimbaud

Sitting high up

on the cliff

at Worm’s Head,

I watch the sun setting.


A red stain 
is vanishing

behind a curtain of grey.


Little by little

the sea disappears.


The sea leaves with the sun,

whispers Rimbaud.


Robert Edward Gurney 


The White Lady of Caswell Bay


They say

that a witch

fashions the sand into castles

in Caswell Bay.


They say

that they can withstand

the movement

of the tides.


They say

that if you look closely

you can see

her invisible hands.


I am not so sure

that they are hers.


I like to think

that they belong

to someone else.


Robert Edward Gurney

Sea games
for TamiWhen the tide comes in
the rock pools change
from big-eared elephants
to low-slung crocs,
dolphins and crabs,
till they’re gone.When the tide goes out
the pools change back
to crabs, dolphins,
slimy-eyed crocs
and slate grey elephants
with long, bendy trunks.And a little girl blinks:
‘Da’cu, the tide’s turning’.

Robert Havard


Por Chema Rubio

Ian Gibson dirigió su tesis doctoral. Juan Larrea le pago el Taxi el día que se conocieron. Robert Gurney es un poeta galés que escribe en español.

Además de señalar el camino de su tesis doctoral, sobre Juan Larrea (The Poetry of Juan Larrea, Universidad de Londres, 1975) Gibson se encargó de la presentación en Madrid del libro de Gurney “La Libélula y otros poemas” “ The Dragonfly and Other Poems”. Libro bilingüe. Lord Byron Ediciones, Colección Prometeo Desencadenado. 2013.
De aquella tarde , extraemos el decir del poeta Leo Zelada
“Las palabras emocionadas de Ian Gibson al hablar de su amigo y ex-alumno en la Universidad de Londres, fue un momento verdaderamente entrañable”.
Pero a falta de estas palabras que, es posible que se grabaran pero no las tengo a mano, si tenemos las del propio Zelada hablando del libro
“El Cuarto Oscuro y otros poemas” editados por lord Byron en el 2008 “La Poesía de Robert Gurney se desliza en la mejor tradición anglosajona, con una precisión en la palabra y un manejo diestro del lenguaje coloquial. Empero se nota el desborde de la poética, de la intensidad, propios de la mejor poesía latinoamericana. Tradición y modernidad atraviesan armónicamente este poemario”.

Así mismo escribe Marta Zabaleta en el diario Colatino del Salvador “Palabras cortas, precisas, que describen un escenario espeluznante, atrapado en el candor de un momento que impulsa a querer abrazar al niño atrapado aun en la agonía de su joven madre.”

Y para terminar con la voz de los otros que nos hablan de Robert Gurney damos paso al poeta argentino Andrés Bohoslavsky, quién escribe el prólogo y selección de su poesía para el libro “Poemas a la Patagonia” y entre otras sinceridades leemos:

“Robert Gurney, el hombre. Para ser sincero, escribo estas líneas para un amigo. Y suena fuerte al escribirlo. Casi tanto como al pronunciarlo. Entonces, prefiero, hablar primero de él. Y contarte algunas cosas. Fue Bob, entre unos pocos, quien me rescata de una etapa oscura en lo relativo a la poesía. Abandonado y descreído de los “salones”, las “capillas” y finalmente hasta del valor de lo literario, soy extraído de ese territorio tenebroso, por eso que diría Chejov, mejor que yo”.

Robert Gurney tiene tan metida en su cabeza la voz de Dylan Thomas, que parece que resucita y le habla.
Si somos lo que vivimos, Gurney es también Dylan , por galés y por poeta. Unidos por ese mismo aire donde la poesía se hace firme, contra los vientos que pregonan la colocación de la economía en los altares, contra las mareas que suben a los pies de faraónicas construcciones contaminando el mar y las dunas, contra todo lo que es nocivo para los corazones educados en la música inmortal de nuestros ancestros, por eso, escribe, por quienes no pueden decir nada.

En cada página resurge esa voz única del recogedor de vivencias de otros y suyas al mismo tiempo, y también a veces la voz de Dylan Tomás. Pero es un Dylan especial, reconocible porque es el galés que todos sus lectores conocen, pero a la vez especial y único. Muchos especialistas pueden hablar de su poesía y de su historia pero nadie como Robert Gurney lo puede dar a conocer hoy a través de buenos poemas originales.
Nuestro poeta tiene metido a Dylan en su cabeza desde que era un niño y lo oía en la BBC en la voz de famosos actores como Anthony Hopkins, Richard Burton, o por un gran amigo suyo, Philip Madoc, que le ha inspirado en más de un poema.
Cuando escribe a menudo oye la voz de Dylan que se va haciendo eco en su mente y, mientras se lo imagina, va creciendo el poema que está escribiendo con sus manos, como dictado por él. Ese Dylan a quién ve discutiendo con sus amigos en el Kardomah (La Sociedad de la Poesía) en Swansea, lo oye recitar, lo ve fumar y también beber uno a uno los 18 whiskies que se bebió el día de su muerte.
Robert Gurney es un poeta de obsesiones, de bellas obsesiones insobornables, donde los sueños del ser humano pueden ser alcanzados o por lo menos cantados. Una es la que venimos comentando, la que da título al libro To Dylan y otra es la Patagonia. Este es un poema que reúne dos de sus mágicas obsesiones en su último libro.

La Tierra de poetas/ Era medianoche./25 grados bajo cero.
El autobús se rompió/en la carretera entre/Trelew a Esquel
en un lugar que se llama Plumas./Había perros salvajes
en todas partes./Me pareció oír a Dylan/susurrarme al oído:
“Este es un país/donde toman a los poetas/muy en serio “.

Yo pienso lo mismo que este poeta llamado Robert Gurney, que a los poetas nos toman muy en serio en tierra de nadie. A veces somos como perros salvajes poniendo micrófono a nuestro dolor que, a veces, coincide con el mismo dolor del mundo. En su caso coincide más a menudo, porque es un poeta puro y no hablo de su forma poética, hablo del canto de su sensibilidad. Su canto es un canto a lo perdido o a punto de perder, a lo que aún está respirando porque hablamos de la vida.
Otra de sus obsesiones es la Patagonia, obsesión que comparto con él y con el escritor Osvaldo Bayer nacido en Esquel, quién escribió un libro maravilloso llamado La Patagonia Rebelde.
En la Cordillera de los Andes proliferan los bosques frondosos y a su derecha nos encontramos las tierras de la Pampa, donde la sequedad se hace desierto argentino.

La Patagonia es un lugar de lagos extraordinarios, de altas montañas, y en Ushuaia se encuentra el Tren del Fin del Mundo. Luego acaba la tierra y comienza el mar y al cruzarlo, unas horas más tarde, nos deja en la Antártida. Así es la naturaleza de su poesía que nos lleva, lectura a lectura, más allá del mundo conocido sin miedo.

Robert Gurney conoce bien Argentina, la primera vez que puso sus pies allí fue alrededor de 1970-71. En estos años la tensión ya era insoportable entre estudiantes y militares, comenzaron a caer bombas en algunas ciudades y aparecieron los primeros campos de concentración, pero secretos.

En este difícil contexto Robert Gurney hace 36 entrevistas al padre del surrealismo español, Juan Larrea, la tercera de sus obsesiones.

Y este poema refleja la primera vez que fue a entrevistarle a Argentina como respuesta a mi pregunta de cómo le conoció:

El taxi de Juan Larrea en Argentina

¿Conociste al poeta Roberto Alifano,
cuando estuviste en Buenos Aires?
me preguntó el poeta Chema Rubio.

No lo conocí, le contesté …
Pasé rápido por la capital.

El taxista que me recogió en Ezeiza,
tenía un Ford Falcon Verde sin matrícula.

¿Por qué has venido a Argentina?
me preguntó.

Para hablar con un poeta,
le contesté gentilmente.

¿Para hablar con un poeta?
repitió incrédulo.

Sí, para hablar con un poeta.
No me creyó.

Al pasar por el barrio chino
me ofreció a su hermana.

La señaló en la puerta de un bar.
Decliné gentilmente.

Le agradecí,
al tiempo que rechacé su oferta.

Al parar
en la terminal de autobuses
que van el interior del país
me robó con el valor del viaje
casi todo lo que llevaba.

Larrea tuvo que ayudarme.

No, no pasé mucho tiempo,
en Buenos Aires.

Al igual que la tierra de la Patagonia acaba para dar vida al mar y a los hielos de la Antártida, el poeta Robert Gurney no hace caso al bandolerismo y se hace más fuerte en cada viaje.
Hablar con él es como oírlo leer esas pequeñas historias que le ha tocado vivir y le ha tocado contarnos. Nos lleva en su último libro a recorrer las vías exteriores de la Patagonia, a través las gentes que se cruzaron en su ruta y a pensadores y poetas, que ya están en otro mundo, como el excelente escritor Juan Larrea, que estará como faro alumbrando los mares en la noche, para cuidar de los posibles náufragos que deriven hacia sus costas.
Y a mí me queda la luz pausada de Gurney hablándonos en Madrid de Dylan Thomas y de los viajes a la Argentina, que es un lugar común en mi vida, junto a los poetas Álvaro Guijarro, Silvia, Jose A. Pamies, y Leo Zelada. Esto fue en el año 2010, cuando la crisis económica comenzaba a arreciar y celebrábamos el Centenario de un poeta irreductible por honrado: Miguel Hernández
Hablar con el inglés Robert Gurney es conversar con un hombre fieramente humano, como cantara el poeta, pero yo lo veo como un hombre bueno en el mejor sentido de la palabra bueno, como sentenciara nuestro Antonio Machado.
Hay poemas donde el lector encuentra un nuevo horizonte y otros donde el corazón se queda quieto. La cuerda del pensamiento sin dejar de procesar va al compás de la sangre que se ha quedado en la desconocida nostalgia de un hombre que lee por primera vez y ve al padre de Robert Gurney, como si estuviera allí, en las islas británicas, en silencio.

El poema se titula ‘Hospital’.
El hospital/Mi padre estaba/en el último piso
del hospital/de Luton y Dunstable./Sufría/terriblemente./Me susurró/que quería /lanzarse/por la ventana./Le pedí/que no lo hiciera/por si acaso/hubiera alguien abajo./Creí ver una sonrisa/en sus labios.

Y apretando los labios para que no se nos fuera la alegría, rozando ya la nostalgia antes de tiempo, después de la despedida, nos alejamos.
Y yo les dejo con el poema “La mujer de blanco” que Robert Gurney nos cedió para el volumen de Los Poetas de la Senda y está dedicado a su amiga Ketty Alejandrina Lis.

Adiós maestro, hasta muy pronto, le digo, mientras voy recordando ese poema a Dylan Thomas que nunca me cansaré de releer

La Mujer de blanco

La noche era negra como una biblia.

por una senda en Gales
cuando creí
con mis faros
a la mujer de blanco
en un portón.

No supe
quien era
ni lo que significaba.

Parecía estar de luto
por el robo
del círculo de piedras
de ese campo.

Luego creí ver
a Dylan
arrastrando los pies
hacia una aldea
donde había
un distribuidor automático de cigarrillos

Luego una lechuza
con alas blancas
y anchas como el coche
atraída por mis luces
se abatió
casi rompiendo
el parabrisas.

No había nada.
No sé
lo que esto quiere decir
pero lo intuyo.

Una amiga mía
en Rosario
dice que su mujer de blanco
es la poesía.

Recuerdo haberla visto
una vez
en un poema de Rimbaud
sobre una cascada.

Buscaré ese libro de Robert Graves
sobre el tema.

De repente recuerdo que estoy hablando con Thomas Graves en Deia, termina de comer y caminamos hacia la casa que fue de su padre Robert Graves. Me dice “mira ahí está mi madre” y yo veo a la mujer de negro bajo el sol. La veo como la vida que es y se sufre. Y pienso en la mujer de blanco como lo que ha sido y siempre vuelve, visiones de un poeta descomunal llamado Robert Gurney.

Chema Rubio, Poeta, Madrid, 28 de septiembre, 2014.