Monday, 20 October 2008

Prayer, by Alice Oswald

Alice Oswald's first collection of poetry, The Thing in the Gap-Stone Stile was published by Oxford University Press in 1996 and she has followed this impressive debut with equally impressive collections Dart (2002) and Woods, etc. (2005). In 2007 Faber republished her first collection. She writes the kind of poems I would love to write, they are huge in their perspectives. She looks at her environment and she seems to see all that is important, like the world curving into the eye of an eagle. One of my favourite poems from this collection is called Prayer:


Here I work in the hollow of God's hand
with Time bent round into my reach. I touch
the circle of the earth, I throw and catch
the sun and moon by turns into my mind.
I sense the length of it from end to end,
I sway me gently in my flesh and each
point of the process changes as I watch;
the flowers come, the rain follows the wind.

And all I ask is this—and you can see
how far the soul, when it goes under flesh,
is not a soul, is small and creaturish—
that every day the sun comes silently
to set my hands to work and that the moon
turns and returns to meet me when it's done.

3 comments:

Bo said...

I'm a big fan of hers. A very fine poet.

Miglior acque said...

Yes I've seen. She's marvellous. Hope you're collecting the most offensive types for me to meet this evening?

paul said...

Alice Oswald's first book was new and
original, but nature (as Mayakovsky
said a hundred years ago, even then) is not up-to-date enough. But still
we find the moon, the flower, the blade of grass. The crumbling world
edifice of nature requires a newer
more eschatological approach and talent. I hearby then declare the end of nature poetry.

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