Reading “Redgrove’s Wife”

Redgrove’s Wife” by Penelope Shuttle is quietly and almost desperately sad. There is such an infusion of grief that it should feel oppressive but instead it reads as a release. The poems, when reading through, are cathartic and Shuttle has managed to accurately grasp that tired feeling that is so easy to recognise.

By the Water’s Edge is a lovely take on Eurydice, an old favourite of mine. It’s short but so powerful. The final lines,

Too busy singing,
the singer did not look back

Is everything that you want to hear about losing someone. By looking back Orpheus lost Eurydice all over again but by carrying on we remember and never really lose anyone. This is followed by poems such as But He which is a gorgeous eulogy on a well-lived life.

This has quickly become a favourite collection of mine, and one that I know I shall return to for both comfort and clarity. In this book, Penelope Shuttle really does exactly what great poets should do, it’s hard to define but it runs through all of the poems in the collection.


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