Robert. A Welch
About the book…
sorrow wrung his poor
exhausted heart, drove a shockwave
from his stomach to his eyes all
full of tears. He opened wide his arms
to hold his mother, found
she was the river.
from ‘Lost to Those Waters’
Written in the aftermath of the death of his son, Egan, in 2007, Robert Welch’s Constanza is a sustained meditation on loss and mortality.
The painful candour of the poems is balanced by an inherent artistic tact to produce a collection which is both formal, yet attentive to the pain of sorrow.
Colouring the poems is the figure of Ovid in exile himself in mourning for a life he feels has left him behind; Ovid's voice permeates the tone of the collection and Welch produces a re-imagining of the poet’s exile in Tomis, on the outer reaches of the empire (modern day Constanza in Romania) and a re-working of some of the Roman poet's elegies to produce a work of imaginative flux where past and present engage in an affecting dialogue.
While the loss of Egan remains central to the collection, Welch broadens his
reveries into the loss of friends, mentors, colleagues and figures of public resonance.
Eschewing sentimentality, the elegies of Constanza are not only moving but
teeming with vitality and life.