Caught by the River

Congratulations Alice Oswald

2nd April 2010

We were pleased to see Alice Oswald named winner of the inaugural Ted Hughes award for new work in poetry, this week. We like her poems very much and chose a short section of her poem ‘Dart’ to close our book ‘Words on Water’. The award was given for her poems in the book ‘Weeds and Wildflowers’ and this is one of my favourites from that book. It is also somewhat appropriate for the time of year;


First of April – new born gentle.
Fleeting wakeful on a Greenleaf cradle.
Second of April – eyes half open,
Faint light moving under lids. Face hidden.
Third of April – bonny and blossoming
In a yellow dress that needs no fastening.
Fourth fifth sixth – she somehow stands
clutching for balance with both hands.

Seventh of April and tiredness shows.
No rest for three days in unwashed clothes.
Asks (eighth of April) for a little water.
Asks asks until the lips dry out. No answer.
Ninth of April. Head flopped over.
Contorted with headache. Seated figure.
Twelfth of April – eyes half closed.
No light moving under lids. Tense pose.

April the thirteenth. Almost dead.
Face like wet paper. Hanging yellow head.
Still there. Still dying. Fourteenth of April.
Face fading out. Expression dreadful.
Fifteenth sixteenth. So on so on.
Soul being siphoned off. Colour gone.
April the seventeenth. Dead. Probably.
Skull in the grass. Very light and crumbly.