Blog 4: Memorial

As part of my Masters in poetry, we are doing weekly reading groups going through the T.S Eliot poetry shortlist. This week’s was Alice Oswald’s Memorial, which in exploring the way she has written this excavation-translation piece, we wrote individual responses to one of the soldiers. When reading up on Memorial for the group I enjoyed the  article Sarah Crown wrote, interviewing Alice Oswald. Using an idea of hers I began to write:

Article Title: Alice Oswald: Haunted by Homer

‘the absence of the monolithic main characters leaves the histories of the footsoldiers who died in their shadows exposed and gleaming, like rocks at low tide’ (Sarah Crown).

Pylaemenes (p.24 of Memorial)


How these stones pile up

The tide pulled back

Names curve in the sand

A wave comes and tugs

At the first letter, P,

The Y begins to leak from

Its tail into time’s flux


Like a soldier falls

The dust of the ground on his lips

A suitcase of armour is unpacked

In a museum, given a gloss

And a shine that the trickled

Bloody life of his body

Has lost long ago.


In writing this piece I reflected on the way Oswald plants details of modern life in her writing of Memorial. In my copy of Memorial I’ve marked all the mentions of armour, so the armour appeared in this piece. I don’t think I have the confidence of Oswald to repeat the extended simile. I did enjoy the rebellion of turning the simile into the solider’s story, rather than being the departure point as it is in Memorial. Next week’s workshop will be looking at John Burnside’s Black Cat Bone.


One thought on “Blog 4: Memorial

  1. Pingback: Blog 15: Memorial Museum « beccaaudra

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