I've been reading Alice Oswald's The Thing in the Gap-Stone Stile for a few months now - it's so richly written that I put it down for weeks between each poem.
Last night I sat up till midnight to finish it, going to sea with 'The Three Wise Men of Gotham Who Set Out to Catch the Moon in a Net', the surprising narrative poem which rounds off the collection.
Surprising, because narrative isn't what drives most of the poems here - though people move (or lie awake) through many of them, the poems are observations, close watchings: of a wood coming to life in spring, the moon's light on the sea, a neighbour on the other side of a party wall.
I bought the collection because I opened it in a bookshop and loved the first two lines of the first poem, 'Pruning in Frost':
Last night, without a sound,a ghost of a world lay down on a world,
The final poem has a wonderful opening too, returning to the motif of moonlight on the sea, but this time blending the prosaic (signalling the story to come) and the poetic:
It was a monday night. The moon was up
and throwing golden elvers on the water.
This final poem swept me up in its rhythms - Oswald creates a strange, magical world, never whimsical, completely rooted in the physical sensation of being at sea at night, and transports us utterly.
Not every poem in the collection worked for me, but it's been a joyful experience to discover Oswald. I'll be back for more.