Tithonus – Alice Oswald

Can I recommend Alice Oswald’s Tithonus – 46 minutes in the life of dawn, to you? The dawn fell in love with Tithonus and asked Zeus to grant him immortality, but she forgot to ask that he should not grow old. Now 5000, Tithonus observes yet another dawn.  A shortened reading, given by Alice during an episode of The Echo Chamber, Radio 4, can be heard on the BBC iplayer for a few more days. I was fortunate enough to be present at the first performance of the work, which began appropriately in darkness.

Alice had been writing the poem before, during and after the creative writing course she and her husband, Peter, were leading at Sharpham House, and which I attended. Alice walked then to a particular field on the banks of the River Dart to write for the duration of civil dawn in the landscape the poem inhabits. A bit of a killer in terms of disrupted sleep and its sequelae!

If you enjoy exploring (among many other things) how the sound of juxtaposed words imbues them with life, art and meaning beyond their common function and definition, read the beautifully made pamphlet of Tithonus and be amazed.

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