Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Alice Oswald, "Memorial"

A partial translation of The Iliad published in 2013 that focuses on death and simile. Selections:

Like a wind-murmur
Begins a rumour of waves
One long note getting louder
The water breathes a deep sigh
Like a land-ripple
When the west wind runs through a field
Wishing and searching
Nothing to be found
The corn-stalks shake their green heads

     *     *     *

Like an oak tree struck by lightning
Throws up its arms and burns
Terrifying for a man out walking
To smell that sulphur smell
And see the fields flickering ahead of him
Lit up blue by the strangeness of god

     *     *     *

As if it was June
A poppy being hammered by rain
Sinks its head down
It’s exactly like that
When a man’s neck gives in
And the bronze calyx of his helmet
Sinks his head down

Someone was there
And the next moment no one

     *     *     *

Like the hawk of the hills the perfect killer
Easily outflies the chattering dove
She slips away but he follows he ripples
He hangs his black hooks over her
And snares her with a thin cry
In praise of her softness

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