Alice Oswald, The Thing in the Gap-Stone Stile, Faber
Originally published in the mid-1990s
by Oxford University Press before it jettisoned its contemporary
poetry list, this book is a classic. The settings are gardens, greenhouses,
rivers and a sea that takes on a kind of marine pastoral, where waves and the
look of the water unfold aspects of field and flower. There are also beautiful
love poems, one which includes delicate observation of a lover as he
sleeps – “We turn, / in the thrift of sleep, each to his own”, and another,
“Wedding”, which wittily recounts a circular sequence of events from love
like “a sail” through, finally, to love “which is like everything”. A longer
poem concludes this short book, retelling the tale of the Gotham fishermen
setting out to catch the moon. The collection’s occasional whimsicality is
beautifully played off against the higher registers of traditional love poetry
and observation of nature.
Also try: D. H. Lawrence, Birds, Beasts, and Flowers!
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