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All Quotes by author - Alice Oswald
" A dead tree, cut into planks and read from one end to the other, is a kind of line graph, with dates down one side and height along the other, as if trees, like mathematicians, had found a way of turning time into form. "
" A living tree is a changing, sleeve shape, a wet, thin, bright green creature that survives in the thin layer between heartwood and bark. It stands waiting for light, which it catches in the close-woven sieves of its leaves. "
" At each moment, a poem might grow into a totally different shape. It is not so much like working in a garden. It is more as if you remade the garden every day. "
" At eight, I made a commitment to poetry. Until then, I thought I'd be a policeman. But I went a whole night without sleeping, and the next day the world had changed. It needed a different language. "
" Even when writing your own poems, you need to talk to people; you need to magpie around, getting words and things. I'm very against the celebrity culture that wants to say: 'this is a genius, this is one person who has done something brilliant.' There are always a hundred people in the background who have helped to make it. "
" I believe the poet shouldn't be in the poem at all except as a lens or as ears. "
" If you bend a branch until it's horizontal, the sap will slow to a stopping point: a comma or colon, made of leaves grown into one another and over one another and hardened. Out of this pause comes a flower, which unfolds itself in spirals, as if the leaf form, unable to keep to its line, had begun to pivot. "
" If you put a real leaf and a silk leaf side by side, you'll see something of the difference between Homer's poetry and anyone else's. There seem to be real leaves still alive in the 'Iliad,' real animals, real people, real light attending everything. "
" I have this exercise where I force myself to look out from the flower's point of view at these great walloping humans coming down the path, and try, just try and feel it from their point of view because it's a different world to them, a fascinating hard one. "
" I like Patti Smith's lyrics, and sometimes think I could be influenced by them. But she has a kind of cool that's beyond me. "
" I much preferred Latin to Greek. I loved the language being such a pattern that you could not shift a word without the whole sentence falling to pieces. "
" I never meant to be a full-time poet: I started out as a gardener, an ideal job for a poet because your head is left free. "
" I really think there are spirits in a place that you have to accommodate. "
" I try not to invent; I try simply to translate the weird language of the natural world. And I'm not into absolute ownership of things. "
" It's a question of trying to take down by dictation what's already there. I'm not making something, I'm trying to hear it. "
" It's a relief to hear the rain. It's the sound of billions of drops, all equal, all equally committed to falling, like a sudden outbreak of democracy. Water, when it hits the ground, instantly becomes a puddle or rivulet or flood. "
" I've always felt, with 'The Iliad,' a real frustration that it's read wrong. That it's turned into this public school poem, which I don't think it is. That glamorising of war, and white-limbed, flowing-haired Greek heroes - it's become a cliched, British empire part of our culture. "
" Most spiders eat and remake their webs every night. "
" One night, I lay awake for hours, just terrified. When the dawn finally came up - the comfortable blue sky, the familiar world returning - I could think of no other way to express my relief than through poetry. I made a decision there and then that it was what I wanted to do. Every time I pulled a wishbone, it was what I asked for. "
" People are so used to reading novels now, they just read a poem straight through to get the meaning. And that's something totally different from the slow way you read something if it's a tune; which to me a poem has to be. "
" Spring, when the earth tilts closer to the sun, runs a strict timetable of flowers. "
" Stripped of its plot, the 'Iliad' is a scattering of names and biographies of ordinary soldiers: men who trip over their shields, lose their courage or miss their wives. In addition to these, there is a cast of anonymous people: the farmers, walkers, mothers, neighbours who inhabit its similes. "
" The sea has this contradictory quality, that the more you see of it, the more it overwhelms the eye and disappears in its own brightness. Like a flame, whose meaning is light but whose centre is dark, it demands to be undefined. "
" To be a poet is as serious, long-term and natural as the effort to be the best human you can be. To express something well is not a question of having a top-class education and understanding poetic forms: rather, it's a question of paying attention. "
" Webs are made mostly of spaces. They break easily. They barely exist. They belong to the category of half-things: mist, smoke, shrouds, ghosts, membranes, retinas or rags; and they quickly fill up with un-things: old legs and wings and heads and hollow abdomens and body bags of wasps. "
" When the wind blows through a wood, its mass is cut and closed by every leaf, forming a train of jittery vortices in the air. "
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