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27 November 2011

Louis MacNeice

I decided to open my readings to things aloof my usual choice, in the search for breaking with any aesthetics preconceptions which may block my further reading. In the following poems I find a weigh in some way. More diluted images and words, though strong in cartography means of storytelling imagination. So I share:

from Nouvelletes

II
Les Sylphides

Life in a day: he took his girl to the ballet;
Being shortsighted could hardly see it -
The white skirts in the grey
Glade and the swell of the music
Lifting the white sails.

Calyx upon calyx, canterbury bells in the breeze
The flowers on the left mirror to flowers on the right
And the naked arms above
The powdered faces moving
Like seaweed in a pool.

Now, he thought, we are floating - ageless, oarless -
Now there is no separation, from now on
You will be wearing white
Satin and a red sash
Under the waltzing trees.

But the music stopped, the dancers took their curtain,
The river had come to a lock - a shuffle of programmes -
And we cannot continue down
Stream unless we are ready
To enter the lock and drop.

So they were married - to be the more together -
And found they were never again so much together,
Divided by the morning tea,
By the evening paper,
By children and tradesmen's bills.

Waking at times in the night she found assurance
Due to his regular breathing but wondered whether
It was really worth it and where
The river had flowed away
And where were the white flowers.

(1939)


Neutrality

The neutral island facing the Atlantic,
The neutral island in the heart of man,
Are bitterly soft reminders of the beginnings
That ended before the end began.

Look into your heart, you will find a County Sligo,
A Knocknarea with for navel a cairn of stones,
You will find the shadow and sheen of a moleskin mountain
And a litter of chronicles and bones.

Look into your heart, you will find fermenting rivers,
Intricacies of gloom and glint,
You will find such ducats of dream and great doubloons of [ceremony
As nobody today would mint.

But then look eastward from your heart, there bulks
A continent, close, dark, as archetypal sin,
While to the west off your own shores the mackerel
Are fat - on the flesh of your kin.

(1942)


Selected poems by Louis MacNeice

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