Tuesday 1 July 2014

Day 711: Seaside Lady

'She came with her cushion/to the cliffs. She sat/strained in the wind/in a pink old-fashioned hat...'

How many times have we walked past thrift, the little pink flower on the grass and rocks by the beach without really noticing it? Alice Oswald adds a big personality to the common wildflower in this poem. It's one of my favourites from the collection 'Weeds and Wildflowers', succeeding as it does, in personifying believably this little flower, which may even remind you of someone. As the poet says in her introduction to the collection: 'flowers are recognisably ourselves elsewhere', stating her aim in writing the book was to 'use the names of flowers to summon up the flora of the psyche.'  The poems essentially are a record of  'someone's wild or wayside selves.'  I think this is captured brilliantly here.

Thrift - Alice Oswald

Born by the sea.
Used to its no-hope moan.
Forty or thereabouts.
Lived on her own.

Heaved a small sigh.
With a handful of stone
to get started,
she saved up for rain.

She came with her cushion
to the cliffs. She sat
strained in the wind
in a pink old-fashioned hat.

No prospect
but the plunge of the beach.
All except nodding,
no speech.

But she worked she worked
to the factory rhythm
of the sea's boredom.
Its bouts of atheism.

And by the weekend
set up a stall
of paper flowers.
And sold them all.

So she made substance out of
lack of substance.
Hard of hearing,
she thrived on silence.

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