Monday, July 07, 2008

Louis MacNeice's "Meeting Point"

I'm in Galway for a creative writing and Irish lit program, so I thought I'd share some of the stuff we're learning about, perhaps in an effort to assure you that I don't think the standout achievement of the Celtic Tiger is the St Bernard brand cookies. (Even though I'd say they're kinda a big deal.)

As someone who barely reads poetry, who is in fact scared of it, I need people to take me by the hand and introduce me to this stuff, so I'm quite lucky to have found my way into a course that is exposing us to both literature and poetry.

"Glamorously unself-pitying melancholy"

You can learn more about Louis MacNeice here. Read more about MacNeice and the following poem at Reading for Life. For more poems and a brief article and bio of MacNeice, visit Will and Testament for an article written on last year's anniversary of MacNeice's passing.

Meeting Point
by Louis MacNeice

Time was away and somewhere else,
There were two glasses and two chairs
And two people with the one pulse
(Somebody stopped the moving stairs)
Time was away and somewhere else.

And they were neither up nor down;
The stream's music did not stop
Flowing through heather, limpid brown,
Although they sat in a coffee shop
And they were neither up nor down.

The bell was silent in the air
Holding its inverted poise -
Between the clang and clang a flower,
A brazen calyx of no noise:
The bell was silent in the air.

The camels crossed the miles of sand
That stretched around the cups and plates;
The desert was their own, they planned
To portion out the stars and dates:
The camels crossed the miles of sand.

Time was away and somewhere else.
The waiter did not come, the clock
Forgot them and the radio waltz
Came out like water from a rock:
Time was away and somewhere else.

Her fingers flicked away the ash
That bloomed again in tropic trees:
Not caring if the markets crash
When they had forests such as these,
Her fingers flicked away the ash.

God or whatever means the Good
Be praised that time can stop like this,
That what the heart has understood
Can verify in the body's peace
God or whatever means the Good.

Time was away and she was here
And life no longer what it was,
The bell was silent in the air
And all the room one glow because
Time was away and she was here.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting about Louis MacNeice, I don’t think I’ve ever read any of his work but his name was familiar…anyway, I really enjoyed Meeting Point and several of the other poems I found following your links – his work seems very accessible and lyrical. Okay, you asked for a little advice, and while I don’t know a lot about poets, I do have some favorites I’d like to share with you (and I know you’re familiar with some of them already).
Poetry is a pretty private thing, it either speaks to you on a personal level or it doesn’t. While I was exposed to quite a bit of poetry in college, the only poets that I’ve read with any regularity are a few of the lyric poets from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries – I like poems that have an innate sense of melody and rhythm. I really can’t tolerate the mid-twentieth century modernist poems of Ezra Pound, T. S. Eliot, etc. – not only do I not like the structure, I don’t enjoy the bleak hopelessness and the attempt at “realism” that permeates the whole modernist movement (poetry and fiction). I KNOW that life is hard and that it can be pretty ugly at times, but it doesn’t have to be hopeless and most of the people I know are contented with their life most of the time and when life becomes challenging and/or melancholy, I want to be encouraged to persevere and find my out of the low spot – I don’t want to wallow in it.
A-hem, excuse me while I climb down off my soapbox…my list of favorite poets (and my favorite corresponding volume or collection) include:
Christina Rosetti (The Goblin Market and Other Poems)
W.B. Yeats (The collected Poems of W.B. Yeats)
Rabindranath Tagore (Gitanjali)
R.L. Stevenson (A Child’s Garden of Verses)
Kipling (any collection, all of them)
G.K. Chesterton (G. K. Chesterton's Early Poetry)
Walter de la Mare (The Listeners and Other Poems)
And of course there’s also Townes, Joe Strummer, Mike Scott, Mark Kozelek, Keren Ann, etc., etc…


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