Alice Oswald, Falling Awake
Geoffrey Grigson, Selected Poems,
ed. John Greening (Greenwich Exchange, 2017)
After her brilliant, Homeric Memorial
(2011) comes Alice Oswald’s, Falling Awake
. Here light battles the shadowy natural world and rivers stir with ancient spirits. The idea of falling awake seems to capture both the renewing moments of consciousness (an idea recently explored in Galen Strawson’s Things That Bother Me
) and the gravity of the natural world (‘It is the story of the falling rain / to turn into a leaf and fall again’).
Propelled by this notion of entering consciousness, in poems such as ‘Swan’, and ‘Fox’ and ‘Flies’, Oswald deploys her startling imagery. So the wakening flies:
drop from their winter quarters in the curtains
and sizzle as they fall
feeling like old cigarette butts called back to life
blown from the surface of some charred world
She is, of course, a dab hand at the figurative (‘hunched under the bone lintel of my stare’; ‘the herons used to hang like lamps here’; ‘lost to my lethargy like a dripping tap’). It is central to her intriguingly strange vision (‘a lime-green light troubles the riverbed as if the mud was haunted by the wood’). So the ghostly exhalations of ‘Slowed-Down Blackbird’ reveal:
Three people in the snow
getting rid of themselves
breath by breath
Her rural settings have an edge: mysterious, classical, dangerous. Oswald’s is an uneasy consciousness (reminiscent in that sense ...
The page you have requested is restricted to subscribers only. Please enter your username and password and click on 'Continue'.
If you have forgotten your username and password, please enter the email address you used when you joined. Your login
details will then be emailed to the address specified.
If you are already a member and have not received your login details, please email us,
including your name and address, and we will supply you with details of how to access the archived material.
If you are not a member and would like to enjoy the growing online archive of Stand Magazine
, containing poems, articles, prose and reviews,
why not subscribe
to the website today?