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The Mabinogi by Matthew Francis

The Mabinogi (original 2017; edition 2017)

by Matthew Francis

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262660,659 (4.5)None
'Here at the turn of the leaf a horseman is riding through the space between one world and another . . .' The Mabinogi is the Welsh national epic, a collection of prose tales of war and enchantment, adventure and romance, which have long fascinated readers all over the world. Matthew Francis's retelling of the first four stories (the Four Branches of the Mabinogi) is the first to situate it in poetry and captures the magic and strangeness of this medieval Celtic world: a baby is kidnapped by a monstrous claw, a giant wades across the Irish Sea to do battle, a wizard makes a woman out of flowers, only to find she is less biddable than he expected. Permeating the whole sequence is a delight in the power of the imagination to transform human experience into works of tragedy, comedy and wonder. The Mabinogi is an important contribution to the storytelling of the British Isles. 'I have waited a life for this book: our ancient British tales re-told, in English, by a poet, as they were in their original Welsh. This is more than translation. It picks up the harp and sings.' Gillian Clarke… (more)
Title:The Mabinogi
Authors:Matthew Francis
Info:London : Faber & Faber, 2017.
Collections:Your library
Tags:poetry, mythology & folklore, retelling, read 2018

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The Mabinogi by Matthew Francis (2017)



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A superb poetic retelling of the Four Branches of the Mabinogi.

In his introduction, Francis says that he's streamlined and slightly reorganised the stories to fit his verse and to promote a greater sense of narrative flow than is present in the originals. Something of a concern before I read the poem itself, but in making these changes to the stories he has retained both their charm and their gnomic otherworldliness.

I always feel grounded when I read the Mabinogi, despite the fantastical, magical and unearthly elements. The stories seem so rooted in the soil, growing organically out of the landscape. They are simultaneously earthy, earthly and cthonic, linking the realm of the everyday to the mystical and numinous worlds of the unconscious. Francis has captured that in his poems. ( )
  Michael.Rimmer | Aug 6, 2017 |
I really enjoyed this. I struggle to like reading myth and legend in general, and have even less parience with most film verisons. But this verison of The Mabinogi, like me, loves the vitality of language, and is pithy and to the point. It covers the first four branches of "The Mabinogion", successfully editted to cohere these into a whole greater than the sum of their parts. Exactly what I needed, this does for The Mabinogi what Seamus Heaney did for Beowulf. ( )
1 vote rrmmff2000 | Jun 25, 2017 |
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Here at the turn of the leaf a horseman is riding
through the space between one world and another, 
warm in his company of noises;
hoofs, hornsqueals, hound- and man-cries.
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This is a modern verse adaptation of the Four Branches of the Mabinogi. Please do not combine with other versions.
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