Friday, 27 March 2015

Bridge poetry

Browsing today in my small collection of poetry books and online for references to bridges and the things they cross (especially water), I came across a poem by Alice Oswald: Another Westminster Bridge which expressed so vividly so much of what I've been thinking about in my work recently.

Another Westminster Bridge

go and glimpse the lovely inattentive water
discarding the gaze of many a bored street walker
where the weather trespasses into strip-lit offices
through tiny windows into tiny thoughts and authorities

and the soft beseeching tapping of typewriters

take hold of a breath-width instant, stare
at water which is already elsewhere
in a scrapwork of flashes and glittery flutters
and regular waves of apparently motionless motion.

under the teetering structures of administration

where a million shut-away eyes glance once
restlessly at the river’s ruts and glints

count five, then wander swiftly
away over the stone wing-bone of the city.

There are some lovely images here which I'm sure will inform my work ... the lovely inattentive water ...and ... water which is already elsewhere ... in particular.

Especially pleasurable is the fact that, through this searching, I've encountered a fascinating and thought-provoking poet ... more pleasure to be had here, I know.

And to illustrate this post, I've included a small selection of rivers and water in many moods from my archive. First of all is a close-up picture of a calm sea off the coast of Abersoch in North Wales. 

Next is a view on a misty evening in June looking across a grey Lake Garda between Desenzano and Sirmione in northern Italy.

Then, last of all, is the view in glorious sunshine from the footbridge over the Delaware River in Bucks County Pennsylvania that has been so much in my thoughts of late. 


  1. I lit upon the same image phrases as you, plus "apparently motionless motion". My work of the last year has focused a great deal on water: how it moves, how while colorless itself, it takes on the colors of what it flows over or is reflected in or seen through it, and ultimately how moving water has healing properties. What a lovely poem to reflect upon while I work through my own series.

    1. There's so much to enjoy here, isn't there? 'Apparently motionless motion' was on my list as well - along with 'the river's ruts and glints' and 'glittery flutters' ... and the whole gentle, contemplative feel of the poem. My current work started out as a study in perspective via my photos of the bridge and its shadows, but I can feel the focus changing.

  2. Beautiful words and inspiring photos! A journey for sure.
    Although I crossed big bridges in San Francisco for many years...I'm always a little nervous...I like the footbridge in the last photo!

    1. When we walked over the footbridge, it was a wonderful, hot sunny day and stopping to look down at the flowing water was calming and peaceful - but I do understand what you mean about big, long-span bridges.


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