A Poem by Alice Oswald

August 24, 2020  By Alice Oswald

There is a harbour where an old sea-god sometimes surfaces
two cliffs keep out the wind you need no anchor
the water in fascinated horror holds your boat
at the far end of a thin-leaved olive casts a kind of evening over a cave
which is water’s house where it leads its double life
there are four stone bowls and four stone jars
and the bees of their own accord leave honey there
salt-shapes hang from the roof like giant looms
where the tide weaves leathery sea-nets
be amazed by that colour it is the mind’s inmost madness
but the sea itself has no character just this horrible thirst
goes on creeping over the stones and shrinking away



Reprinted from Nobody: A Hymn to the Sea by Alice Oswald. Copyright (C) 2019 by Alice Oswald. Used by permission of W.W. Norton & Company, Inc. All rights reserved.

Alice Oswald
Alice Oswald is the author of eight books of poetry, including Memorial and Falling Awake, winner of the 2016 Costa Poetry Award and the Griffin Prize. Elected as the Oxford University Professor of Poetry in 2019, Oswald lives in Bristol, England, with her family.

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