The two poems are about love. One portrays a very distant marriage, the other portrays a very committed marriage. Both poems are of Welch relevance. Gillian Clarke and Paul Henry were both born in Wales.
I am going to begin with the poem "Overheard in County Sligo."
The first line of the poem :"I married a man from County Roscommon" suggests they have a distant relationship in the way she says "a man" and does not give him a name. He may not mean much to her. The second line has the phrase "Back of beyond." This seems like a negative feature. I think the woman possibly feels as if she is nowhere or maybe it is a symbol of her life. The third and fourth lines suggest a pastoral area and with the animals mentioned she probably lives on a dairy farm.
The second verse gives images of movement.
The third and fourth lines say
"and the road runs down through the open gate
and freedoms there for the taking."
I think this suggests freedom. Nobody is stopping her from leaving, but she is scared, maybe of being alone with nobody to turn to. I think she is also frightened and possibly struggling with what people believe women should be happy with. She is a woman who has everything but her dreams.
The third verse talks about what she had wanted to be. The first line :"I had thought to work on the Abbey Stage." I think she had longed to be an actress and to be able to express herself physically, but now she feels trapped and all her feelings are bottled up inside her. She has no way to let them out. Also the second line says : "Or to have my name in a book."...