Chester City Walls: A Poet’s Mosaic by Julia D. McGuinness

Wednesday, 14 October 2015



Perfect bound. 76 pages. £7.95

ISBN 978-1-909404-23-6

Publication date 22nd October 2015

Colour illustrations


Chester Walls is an exceptional first collection. These are lyric poems and historical narratives of the highest order: expansive, impeccably controlled, assured, and full of an imagery that lingers long in the memory. Every page is its own treasure. They are poems of place, built, like the Walls themselves, piece by piece, and with a chisel-like intricacy, mapping centuries of lives lived and imagined, and how their shadows continue to bear upon us now.

Dr Nikolai Duffy, Lecturer in American Literature

Sample poems:

Fallen Angels


 You look startled with your set lips,

brows frozen over apple cheeks.

Are you shocked to find yourselves here,

eight disembodied spirits, stationed in pairs

around a giant carriage clock

on the mantelpiece of Eastgate Wall?


Wrought iron and sandstone is a drop down

from heaven’s crystal halls and the swords

of fire you held at Eden’s gates.

Now all you guard is the Diamond date

of an earthly Empress’ reign; in a fortress city

at peace, you chaperone time for all comers.


Do you brim with anger, crammed

into corners, your heads held rigid,

sprouting sky-blue wings for ears?

You could not hear nor stop the thieves

who came to steal the only hands in sight

on the clock-face, beneath your eyes.


Your vanity wings, trimmed with gold,

leave you pinioned on a box built

to house a hundredweight of pendulum,

aching your brains with the throb of time.

Eternal creatures, forced against each second

of the Walls’ passing hours.


Your annunciation tamed into decoration,

you become extras in a thousand images

of beaming Japanese or gawky teenagers.

Cherubs afloat above iron curls, brick-red roses,

you have endured over a century,

watching us walk under time’s shadow.


Trees by the Eastward Wall



No urgent axe has hacked

to clear threatened ground

so here, steady and serene


they have outgrown Wall,

crowns towering high.

They stand in long time,


gaze down decades, infuse

whispers adrift on the air.

But year by year their roots


weave deeper still. Nourished

on loss and detritus, what knowing

do they draw from earth?


Fragments of old tools, letters?

Mulch of concealed bloodshed,

tang of dried secrets, tears?


Nearer the Cathedral

their boughs proffer sanctuary,

verdant in prayer

Chester City Walls will be launched at the Chester Fringe Festival on October 22nd: