So now to the review, if by such a term it may be graced.
Weeds and Wild Flowers is beautifully presented and contains not just Alice Oswald's poems but also etchings and drawings by Jessica Greenman. These are not... but heck, let Alice Oswald tell you in her own words, for they drip beauty.
Weeds and Wild Flowers, which grew out of a number of conversations with Jessica Greenman, is not an illustrated book. It is two separate books, a book of etchings and a book of poems, shuffled together. What connects them both is their contention that flowers are recognisably ourselves elsewhere; but whereas the etchings express that thought dynamically in the postures of the pictures, the poems make fun of it, using the names of flowers to summon up the flora of the psyche. My hope is that the experience of reading and looking at the book will be a slightly unsettling pleasure, like walking through a garden at night, when the plants come right up to the edges of their names and then beyond them. It is not, for that reason, a reliable guide to wild flowers, though it may be a reliable record of someone's wild or wayside selves.
My own personal feeling is that this is not her best production, but that is to compare it with the very best there is. To illustrate her remarks above concerning ourselves in the flowers, let me give you the opening lines from the first poem in the book:-
Stinking Goose-foot has grown human.
It could happen to anyone.
He has no bath.
Keeps his socks in a bag
that he hangs on a nail by the door.
And his wife in the earth.
In the wet season, in the wasteground,
poking around with a spade, you'll see him
put slugs in a bag.
Which he pops in his mouth.
And this is her in slightly different vein:-
once I was half flower, half self,
that invisible self whose absence inhabits mirrors,
that invisible flower that is always inwardly
groping up through us, a kind of outswelling weakness,
yes once I was half frail, half glittering,
continually emerging from the store of the self itself,
And describing Dock:-
feeler of glands
with your soap-sweet hands
Hopefully, that will have given you enough of a taster to leave you wanting more. It is, I have no hesitation in saying, a book full of delights - not least of which are the gorgeous etchings.
P.S. I still need that dictionary.