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John Lewis Recruits Gillian Clarke To Decorate Cardiff Branch

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It was only last year that retailers John Lewis inspired tears, groans and some wonderfully wicked parodies with their now infamous child-carrying-a-box Christmas advert.

Now in the run up to 2012's festivities the company is back in the headlines again after bringing together the often uneasy bedfellows of advertising and poetry.

The Cardiff branch of the retail giants have commissioned the National Poet of Wales Gillian Clarke to help celebrate their third anniversary with a new poem printed on their wall.

gillian clarke
Gillian Clarke, National Poet of Wales

Home (below) tells the story of narrator returning home on a Winter's evening and feeling comforted by a series of homeware items.

And if this initially sounds as cringe worthy as their button-eyed little boy who couldn't wait to give his parents a gift, it might come as a surprise that the poem was Clarke's idea after an attempt to work with them on National Poetry Day didn't work out.

"I said [to John Lewis] I've had a really lovely idea for you instead - I'd love to see, when I'm sitting having a coffee at John Lewis in Cardiff, instead of looking at abstract glass, to see a poem there," Clarke, who won the Queen's Gold Medal for poetry in 2010, told The Guardian.

The poet insisted that her aim is "not to advertise stuff" but instead sees it as an opportunity to spread poetry around the country, adding that she will try and encourage the store to repeat the idea with other poets in branches around the UK.

Home by Gillian Clarke


Evening, home after hours away,

I catch my room out, dreaming,

in a doze at the end of the day,

surprised by blue dusk at the window,

white cups and dishes gleaming,

my chair, my rug, electricity's glow.

This room and I want music, lamplight,
a good book, fresh tea steaming.
Across the evening city home is waking,
in semis, terraced streets, estates,
in quiet suburbs, silence breaking
with TV, kettles, radio,

as one by one the windows light
till every tower-block's an Advent calendar,
countdown to winter and the longest night.

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