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Review – Alice Oswald, Falling Awake

Falling Awake by Alice Oswald. Cape Poetry, Jonathan Cape, 96pp. £10.00


One of my favourite poems in Falling Awake is the first, “A Short History of Falling”, with its lilting cadences and lovely musical returns of sound and idea:

It is the story of the falling rain
to turn into a leaf and fall again

it is the secret of a summer shower
to steal the light and hide it in a flower

and every flower a tiny tributary
that from the ground flows green and momentary

That’s like a fairytale, using a childlike simplicity of language to evoke vast, complicated  processes … Continue Reading

Like Leaves: Alice Oswald’s Memorial


Memorial by Alice Oswald. Faber and Faber Ltd. 96 pp. £ 12.99 Hardback


This is an Iliad for our time, brilliantly updated by the sheer freshness of the writing, the simplification of situations to their timeless essentials, and constant subtle flashes of anachronism. But not “for our time” in any limiting sense. Oswald couldn’t be farther from the kind of cheap topicality that seems alive in the moment of writing and then dates as fast as newspapers go yellow. I think her poem will go on being contemporary and fresh for a long time to come.

Fundamentally she’s transformed epic into lyric, … Continue Reading

Alice Oswald, A Sleepwalk on the Severn, lines 1 – 12

A Sleepwalk on the Severn kept coming into my mind while I was reading Memorial. It’s full of passages of extreme beauty and originality that I should have written about when I first read it. An overall review would be redundant now but I want to say something about the first twelve lines of the prologue:

Flat stone sometimes lit sometimes not
One among many moodswung creatures
That have settled in this beautiful
Uncountry of an estuary

Swans pitching your wings
In the reedy layby of a vacancy
Where the house of the sea
Can be set up quickly and taken down in an … Continue Reading