This is a blog for the poetry of Peter Oswald. I am best known as a verse playwright who was the Writer in Residence at Shakespeare's Globe from 1996 to 2005. I wrote three plays for that stage - Augustine's Oak ,(1999) The Golden Ass, (2002) and The Storm, (2005.) My play Fair Ladies at a Game of Poem Cards, (based on a Japanese puppet play) was staged at the Cottesloe (National Theatre) in 1996. I have written a stage version of the Hindu epic, The Ramayana, produced at the Birmingham Rep (2000) and the Olivier, (National Theatre) 2001. My version of Schiller's Mary Stuart was produced at the Donmar Warehouse in 2005 and at the Apollo Theatre, Shaftesbury Avenue, 2005 to 2006. I have written translations and versions of plays by Sophocles, Racine, Kalidasa, Tirso de Molina and others. I'm currently working on a new play for the Hampstead Theatre, as well as other projects. But before I ever wrote plays I wrote poetry, and that is the reason why I write plays in verse (dramatic poetry.) I have never stopped writing non-dramatic poems and that's why I want to set up this blog, on which I will slowly post my non-dramatic poetry whenever I have time. There's about twenty-three years of it!
all I remember is the water
in columns collapsing
into beds and each other
sighing out clouds
and the rain's chatter
and the black gape of the drains after
in ditches mixing
with all the fallen jammed into dams
in the blind stream
till their shape flowed out of them
Ladywell has gone up into the sky,
As if she never had been more than thin
Architect's lines, that with a Friday sigh
Are scrunched and chucked into the paperbin.
She has been entered in the book of air,
Where queens are kneeling on a towered green,
And the Sioux dance; whose pages cannot tear,
Printed in lines of light by what has been.
Her demolition has completed her,
Now she cannot be smashed by any hammer;
Steel picks and scoops have not defeated her,
Abstracted by the drill's pneumatic stammer.
But when will I be bold enough to roam
Her floating gardens, enter my old room?
To walk around
On the unconsecrated ground.
I saw a picture of a King
Enter the echoes of a building,
And stovepipes fluted by the wind
Sang praises, high and low, to him!
We struck the hollows of our hands,
And made great zeros with our mouths,
And our brains floated out like clouds,
Dripping a pattering refrain.
And the prayers wandered through our minds,
Like the last bison on the plains,
Seeking a place to lie down, not
Already taken up by bones.
Long boxes wrapped in flags, more empty
Than if they had been filled with nothing,
Floated towards the altar then,
And my head burst like a baloon.
SONG OF THE MOON (from Fair Ladies at a Game of Poem Cards.)
If you ask me why
Does my narrow eye
Grow so wide and round,
Silvering the ground,
What can I reply?
If your eyes could see
How it looks to me,
Staring through the sky
At the whole of life,
Like a well-dressed groom
Stepping from the tomb
To delight his wife,
You would stare like me,
You would move the sea,
You would shine all night,
Crying tears of light.