By Louis MacNeice
Written among August and December 1938, Autumn Journal remains to be one in all the main important and relocating testaments of residing throughout the thirties by means of a tender author. it's a checklist of the author's emotional and highbrow event in the course of these months, the minutiae of daily residing set opposed to the occasions of the area outdoor, the payment in Munich and gradual defeat in Spain.
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Good-bye the Platonic sieve of the Carnal Man But good-bye also Plato's philosophising; I have a better plan To hit the target straight without circumlocution. If you can equate Being in its purest form With denial of all appearance, Then let me disappear - the scent grows warm For pure Not-Being, Nirvana. Only the spider spinning out his reams Of colourless thread says Only there are always Interlopers, dreams, Who let no dead dog lie nor death be final; Suggesting, while he spins, that to-morrow will outweigh To-night, that Becoming is a match for Being, That to-morrow is also a day, That I must leave my bed and face the music.
And so to my flat with the trees outside the window And the dahlia shapes of the lights on Primrose Hill Whose summit once was used for a gun emplacement And very likely will Be used that way again. The bloody frontier Converges on our beds Like jungle beaters closing in on their destined Trophy of pelts and heads. And at this hour of the day it is no good saying 'Take away this cup'; Having helped to fill it ourselves it is only logic That now we should drink it up. Nor can we hide our heads in the sands, the sands have Filtered away; Nothing remains but rock at this hour, this zero Hour of the day.
The night continues wet, the axe keeps falling, The hill grows bald and bleak No longer one of the sights of London but maybe We shall have fireworks here by this day week. , On the Greek town hall and Josiah Mason; On the Mitchells and Butlers Tudor pubs, On the white police and the one-way traffic And glances off the chromium hubs And the metal studs in the sleek macadam. Eight years back about this time I came to live in this hazy city To work in a building caked with grime Teaching the classics to Midland students; Virgil, Livy, the usual round, Principal parts and the lost digamma; And to hear the prison-like lecture room resound To Homer in a Dudley accent.
Autumn Journal: A Poem (Faber poetry) by Louis MacNeice