The Gift of Seeing

“A book should be like an axe for the frozen sea within us,” Franz Kafka memorably said.  One can argue with Kafka about the extremity of his imagery (he writes, in the same letter, of books wounding or stabbing us!), but he is right about the capacity of a creative work to make us open to understanding, to make us truly see.

It is the gift of seeing that Alice Oswald has given us in the two poems she has written for Sophia’s Notebook—and what a gift it is!

In both Cyanometer and Hymn for Winged Instruments, the reader (or listener, because the poems speak with an inner voice) is allowed to enter the mysterious otherness of the world we make familiar only by shutting our eyes to it.

Two Poems began in Alice Oswald’s initial encounter with a bluebell, which was surprised into revealing itself—its living soul—when she bent down to take a photograph. Deeper-into-the-dense of things lies the moth’s message of Hymn for Winged Instruments and—hard though the lessons might sometimes be—deeper and deeper we must go to find it.

It is the revelatory experiential process unfolded in Two Poems which artist Michele Retschlag has captured in the sensitive and lovely watercolour, Bluebell Woods, accompanying the work in published form.

Experience the gift of seeing. Enter the Otherworld.

Read Alice Oswald’s Two Poems HERE.