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Owen Sheers in the ruins of Llanthony Priory
Owen Sheers in Llanthony Priory

Poets inspired by the Monmouthshire landscape

Monmouthshire, the Wye Valley and the Black Mountains have been inspiring poets throughout the world for over 800 years. From Geoffrey of Monmouth to Owen Sheers, countless lines have been written about our waterways and peaks, romantic ruins & ancient monuments.

Here are four of the most notable poets inspired by Monmouthshire and our landscape.

Geoffrey of Monmouth

Therefore, ye Britons, give a wreath to Geoffrey of Monmouth

Geoffrey of Monmouth, The Life of Merlin (c.1150)

Monmouthshire has been creating and inspiring poets from the 12th century, as seen with Geoffrey of Monmouth's 'Life of Merlin', a Latin poem with some of the earliest references to Merlin, King Arthur & Avalon. The nearby Roman town of Caerleon is even thought to be the historical Camelot.

Read the full Life of Merlin here :

William Wordsworth

O sylvan Wye! thou wanderer thro' the woods,

How often has my spirit turned to thee!

William Wordsworth, Lines Composed a Few Miles Above Tintern Abbey (1798)

The most famous of course is William Wordsworth who was so inspired during a Wye Valley boat tour on July 13th 1798 that he wrote a whole poem dedicated to it. His words evoke the 'steep and lofty cliffs', the 'sportive wood run wild' and 'deep rivers and lonely streams' of this Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and has been inspiring further poetry ever since.

Read the full poem here :

Allen Ginsberg

A solid mass of Heaven, mist-infused, ebbs thru the vale,

a wavelet of Immensity, lapping gigantic through Llanthony Valley

Allen Ginsberg, Wales Visitation (1968)

In the 1960s Allen Ginsberg, one of the prominent poets of the beat generation, spent time at Capel-Y-Ffin in the Black Mountains (north Monmouthshire). Inspired by the poets before him, the scenery around him, and the LSD inside him, he penned his ode to Wales and Monmouthshire for The New Yorker. 

Read the full 'Wales Visitation' here :

Owen Sheers

Her east-west flanks, one dark, one sunlit, her vernacular of borders.

Her weight, the unspoken words of an unlearned tongue.

Owen Sheers, Skirrid Fawr (2005)

Which brings us to the 21st Century, and Abergavenny's Owen Sheers. Twice Wales Book of the Year Winner, and the Welsh Rugby Union's first writer in residence, Owen has been shaped by the Abergavenny and Monmouthshire environment. It's here that Owen has climbed trees, scaled heights and crafted poetry. 

You can read 'Skirrid Fawr' here:

Welsh Dragon