Alice Oswald

British poet

Alice Oswald (born 1966) is a British poet from Reading, Berkshire who won the T. S. Eliot Prize in 2002.


  • Poems, like dreams, have a visible subject and an invisible one. The invisible one is the one you can't choose, the one that writes itself. Not a message that comes at the end of the poem, more like a pathological condition that deforms every word – a resonance, a manner of speaking, a nervous tic, a pressure. And this invisible subject only shows up when you're speaking the language that you speak when no one is there to correct or applaud you. Remembering that language is the whole skill of writing well.
    • Get Writing (2004), as quoted in Modern Women Poets (2005) by Deryn Rees-Jones, p. 392
  • Like a fish in the wind, jumps right out of its knowledge, and lands on the sand. Like when the wind comes ruffling at last, to sailors adrift, trying to manage the broken springs of their muscles, and lever and lift their well rubbed oars, making tiny dents, in the ocean. Like when they're cutting ash poles in the hills, the treetops fall as soft as cloth. Like oak trees swerving out of the hills, and setting their faces to the wind, day after day being practically lifted away, they are lashed to the earth, and never let go, gripping on darkness. All day in a trance of war, men murder each other, but at dusk, silence, only the fingers of fire lifting their questions to the mainland. Is there anybody there, please help. Help. help. Until he's full, and of his own iron will walks on.
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