The household has been struck down by ‘flu – having been the last to succumb it seems to have taken me an age to recover my energy and to get back to the poetry.

The last thing I did before taking to my bed was a night out in London to hear Alice Oswald reading Memorial on February 8th. It was an extra-ordinary evening – quite unlike any poetry reading I’ve been to before. after the briefest of introductions from one of the South Bank staff there was Alice on stage behind a lectern but no poem visible. Of course she knows Memorial by heart.

She gave us the whole poem in the half dark – the stage lit with blue light and her voice melodic, flowing, mesmerising and the audience held captive even though we had been given permission to drift off. These men lived and breathed again for a few moments even though their deaths were
long ago/ He’s been in the black earth now for thousands of years.

How marvellous that there was not a single seat left in the auditorium. All too soon we reached Hector’s death and the spell was over, except that even two weeks later it still lingers.

Alice Oswald is coming to Oxford in November to re-tell the poem (read or perform are not the right words). I plan to be there

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