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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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