The Particular contours involving Louis MacNeice’s profession tend to be rarely contested:from the higher point involving his nineteen thirties work, reaching a crescendowith Autumn Journal (1939), he drifted right into a slump, reaching the nadirwith a pair of collections from the early nineteen fifties, Ten BurntOfferings (1952) along with Autumn Sequel (1954), just before reviving to develop astartling new design after the particular decade. The Particular historical momentclearly demanded stylistic renegotiation, each with regard to poets living inIreland and also those outside it, but in comparison with almost all the new stylesdeveloped coterminously simply by Clarke and also Kavanagh, MacNeice’s latework is stark, suggestive of nightmarish solipsism along using a breakdown ofsocial cohesion. In case the particular failure involving his volumes from your early Fiftiessuggested the symbolic break between self along with society, his subsequentinward flip affirms your self because the ground involving lyric poetry.MacNeice’s late perform should be understood as symptomatic of anencroaching dissolution of communality that might profoundly affect thecultures associated with both islands because the twentieth century progressed. This essayexplores MacNeice’s stylistic evolution in mid century andconsiders the extent for you to which in turn these developments had been an essentialfoundation for your advance of his remarkable late style.
The 3 many canonical Irish poets with the mid century each experienced a fresh lease regarding lifestyle within the nineteen fifties. in certain respects it was one of the particular few items they will shared. Austin Clarke’s Ancient Lights (1955) broke a extended poetic silence. His first collection with regard to seventeen years, it heralded a fresh confidence along with a prolific era, regarding him, which will last until your early nineteen seventies. (1) Patrick Kavanagh ultimately regarded the particular ‘noo pomes’ he wrote in the 2nd 50 % of 1957 as his finest work. Having recovered through an operation pertaining to lung cancer throughout 1955, he’d spent the initial 1 / 2 of 1957 within New York, exactly where he evidently enjoyed–and felt affiliated with–much new American poetry. Lithe with improvisatory energy, his ‘noo pomes’ are generally abundant with a sense regarding rejuvenation and also new-found freedom. (2) Meanwhile, the contours of Louis MacNeice’s career tend to be rarely contested: in the high point of his nineteen thirties work, reaching a new crescendo using Autumn Journal (1939), he drifted in to always be able to a slump after the second world War, reaching a nadir with a couple of collections from the early nineteen fifties, Ten Burnt Offerings (1952) as well as Autumn Sequel (1954), prior to reviving to develop a new startling new design in the late nineteen fifties. The dream-logic parable poems in Solstices (1961) and The Particular Burning Perch (1963) are usually compelling inside their warped isolation, electric within their pessimism. The Particular latter ended up being revealed a week after his early death.
The Irish mid-twentieth century is, involving course, inseparable fromstereotypes of stagnation as well as conservatism. The idea is practically a new offered thatthe imaginative process of Irish writers with the era precluded an aestheticconfrontation with the cultural stasis in which they discovered themselves.Whatever means 1 contextualizes it, your historical moment necessitatedstylistic renegotiation, and the shared encounter involving Clarke(1896-1974), Kavanagh (1904-67), along with MacNeice (1907-63) indicates thiswas absolutely no easy task. Yet in contrast with most the new styles developedcoterminously simply by Clarke along with Kavanagh, MacNeice’s late perform isstark, suggestive involving nightmarish solipsism along together with a breakdown regarding socialcohesion. (3) MacNeice’s influence on later on Irish poetry,especially from your North, as well as on contemporary British poetry, fromLarkin onwards, is widely recognized; (4) yet his late verse furthermore hasaffinities together with European poetry (Zbignew Herbert, Vasko Popa andMiroslav Holub spring in order to mind), and also having a author like J.G. Ballard.
MacNeice’s late style strikes the sombre note in contrast to his perform in the Thirties, which was marked through its social dedication and refusal in order to surrender to become able to broken individualism. By Simply contrast, within his late work, the actual a feeling of both self and society has become morbidly phantasmagorical. This will be easy, along with commonplace, for you to relate this to end up being able to his outsider status as being a Northern Irishman in England. Offered that he would not ’feel in the particular home on either island’, as Michael Longley claims, it might become unsurprising which he wound up a laureate associated with homelessness and alienation. (5) However beyond biography, his later on stylistic shift will be of much broader consequence in order to our comprehension of Irish along with British mid-century literature.
His late perform might greatest become understood as symptomatic associated with an encroaching dissolution associated with communality that might clearly along with profoundly affect the actual cultures involving each islands since the twentieth century ground onwards. As any poet situated in England, MacNeice’s late perform indicates how, especially in the nineteen fifties, he bore witness for you to a loss of collective energy inside the aftermath in the second world War, as being a newly disempowered culture, fractured through the breakup regarding empire, floundered in its uncertain method towards any consumerist society. at the extremely least, MacNeice’s function through the Fifties is actually stretched in between a new residual communality which was increasingly felt being moribund, and an emergent trajectory regarding diminishing social cohesion.
In turn, this actually is an increasingly apt way to view the Irish nineteenfifties. Your cultural outcomes of late capitalism get were built using a similarlyflattening impact upon each Irish along with British culture. Involving course, thecolossal transformations wrought through globalization came suddenly and lateto Ireland, within the guise with the Celtic Tiger. Yet we shouldn’t ignorethe slower, uncertain, deeply uneven cultural along with economic mutationsengendered in Ireland by free-market capitalism prior for the seismicboom in the nineteen nineties. For You To become sure, it would become simplistic tosuggest that will the cost-effective policies synonymous along with T.K. Whitaker andSean Lemass, which in turn first began to consider effect around 1958, woulddirectly as well as inevitably lead for the Celtic Tiger, also to our currentpost-crash doldrums. Yet outside regarding Ireland, it is par for your course tolocate a new gearshift within the inexorable rise involving multinational capitalismsomewhere across the nineteen fifties. Within short, it might be crude anddubious to streamline modern Irish history straight into an overarching narrativethat leads straight via communality for you to deracinated globalization. Butbroad perspectives are usually as essential as historical specificity, and, atthe duration of writing, it could appear remiss certainly not to become guided simply by a range of suchperspective, no issue how generalized.
The Irish mid-century seems caught in between the rock and a difficult place: stretched between any declining nationalistic communality, as well as an historical trajectory that would bring liberal energies and also freedoms, but also new and vast difficulties. MacNeice, Kavanagh and Clarke approached this inherent crux with the nineteen fifties within differing ways. The careers regarding the 3 poets exemplify the means the unclear shifts of historical change demand stylistic vigilance along with aesthetic evolution, but MacNeice’s transformation during the decade will be particularly striking. Throughout your Fifties he was, in a few respects, any poet haunted by his poetic past within the Thirties. while Autumn Journal exemplified the apparently easeful way where he fused the actual private and the communal in a poetics associated with social awareness as well as commitment, your failure associated with Autumn Sequel indicated a loss regarding revenue associated with adequate style. His subsequent reinvigoration hinged by making use of an intense lyric re-examination associated with self, culture and also form, in a type that graphically laid bare and also reviewed your symbolic breakdown between poetic subjectivity as well as society.
By the particular nineteen fifties, MacNeice had mostly quit his vexed animus with Ireland, even if he we had not fairly arrive at peace along with the place. He also gave up sharply differentiating among North as well as South and submitting each to trenchant cultural analysis–manoeuvres that distinguished his verse within the Thirties. It would not always be accurate in order to say that Irish references shed their particular specificity totally within his late verse; nonetheless, Ireland broadly gets an impressionistic-symbolic landscape plus a parable-site associated with origins; each aspects increasingly rendered inside a vivid but unstable along with dreamlike manner. and since most of his poetry gets progressively much more parabolic as well as dreamlike, any attempt to end up being able to differentiate in between Ireland–North or even South–and Britain, becomes tough and, indeed, involving questionable relevance. With Regard To example, MacNeice’s biographer Jon Stallworthy traces ‘House in a Cliff’ into a holiday residence throughout Dorset which MacNeice rented inside July 1955, but instantly factors for you to its effective echoes of, as well as symbolic kinship with, earlier poems concerning his childhood residence throughout Carrickfergus. (6) Inside such ways, as he developed his late style, Britain along with Ireland become steadily intermeshed, transfused in for you to a hallucinatory realm that clamours together with uncanny clarity while offering less and less for you to cling on to. (7)
However, it took some time pertaining to MacNeice in order to accomplish his late high style. Nearly All critics have implicitly accepted which there is certainly small to end up being able to be gained via dwelling around the dolorous and dispiriting Ten Burnt Offerings and Autumn Sequel. Outwardly, MacNeice was bullish. Associated With Ten Burnt Offerings he wrote: ‘Personally I believe that book breaks new ground, these poems being more architectural–or perhaps I should say symphonic–than what I had been carrying out before.’ (8) He additionally described the book as ‘ten long poems that have got been experiments inside dialectical structure’. (9) Yet these experiments resulted inside a dialectic that produced no tension, no drama, absolutely no imaginative engagement, no development, and no authentic feeling of structure. one associated with his most committed advocates, Edna Longley, features published that the style ’betrays its desperation as abstraction in pursuit associated with image, image in pursuit involving point, humanism inside pursuit of validation, technique in pursuit involving inspiration, colour throughout pursuit associated with meaning’. (10) A few many years prior in order to the book’s composition, MacNeice had argued: ’Verse can become a precision instrument along with owes its precision very largely for the many and subtle differences which an ordinary phrase can acquire through its place in a rhythmical scheme.’ (11) This specific hits the nail around the head: there may be zero accurate precision without having a new point of pressure, and, lacking this, despite MacNeice’s resourceful lexicon and bombardment associated with rhetorical technique, the particular rhythm in Ten Burnt Offerings is actually leaden, what neglect to animate, as well as the verse remains stubbornly fiat-lined.
Autumn Sequel is actually beset from the identical lumpish verbosity, in greater length. MacNeice wrote: ‘What I consider myself ought to become able to be most interesting about this work is the stability I get attemptedto achieve between the actual practical as well as the contemporary on the one hand and the mythical or perhaps historical around the other.’ (12) Inside the particular book’s ’attempt to be able to marry myth for you to « actuality »‘, (13) the hubris regarding clambering on inside a humdrum terza rima from such duration is amply matched through the conceit of mythologizing actuality by way of dressing up friends as well as acquaintances inside bizarrely inane pseudonyms, then assuming that they have the gravitas regarding communal consequence. the balance between your contemporary and also mythical can be sorely misjudged. It’s not just that the poem, as Peter McDonald argues, helps make ‘the concrete abstract in a globe as well overtly symbolic to appear real’ (14)–a more pressing problem may always be the abject hollowness of the symbolic globe in which it presumes for you to ramble by means of so exhaustively. Its not enough pressure and lifeless rhythm ensure that neither myth nor actuality requires hold. In producing such a zombification of the lithe, coiled, tensile, swooping, elastic and also loaded series involving Autumn Journal, the actual former poem’s searching as well as energized embroiling of self and society can be dispelled. Edna Longley writes: ‘Autumn Sequel remains mostly self-paraphrase or self-parody: a translation involving MacNeice’s poetry directly into less than his prose.’ (15)
A defining impetus involving Autumn Journal, and perhaps of MacNeice’s output as becoming a Thirties poet generally, has been crystallized in his guide about Yeats: ‘History for your artist is one thing which is evolving and he himself is aiding and abetting it.’ (16) Inside broad terms, the particular stylistic failure involving Ten Burnt Offerings and Autumn Sequel implied a severance in this dynamic. It should be stressed which MacNeice remained defiant throughout defending both publications unreservedly, and also Peter McDonald argues that, without them, his late, excellent type wouldn’t normally have been possible. (17) but if these were the crucial stepping stone, this is at least partially because, deep down, your late verse should have stemmed from any stung awareness of, and a reaction to, their failure. Al Alvarez’s overview of Autumn Sequel within The brand New Statesman reads just like a virtual epitaph regarding Thirties poetry, dismissing both MacNeice as well as Auden: ’they get grow to be weary as well as knowing as well as bored with it all. Almost All we can do is, with them, lament the particular makers they may get been’, (18) Stallworthy narrates a visit to Edinburgh within 1955, the place exactly where a dismal MacNeice, morose inside his whisky, insisted ‘he was finished as a poet’. (19)
In fairness, however, both textbooks ended up partially about poetic failure; or, from least, about the trouble involving discovering symbolic resonance inside changed times. Several of this, regarding course, ended up being merely linked to the particular poet obtaining older: ‘This middle stretch / Regarding every day lifestyle is bad for poets’. (20) Nevertheless for you to totally blame his mid-career slump on middle age seems questionable. Autumn Sequel locations the poem’s own lack regarding content centre-stage: ‘Actors’ careers carry on and also I sometimes consider / I am an actor too, that the Muse has defaulted / / As Well As left me an apparatus, rivet as well as link, / Along With nothing to hyperlink or rivet’. (21) soon enough, he would help make such intimations the authentic provenance involving his art.
One regarding the greater telling passages within Autumn Sequel is Canto IV, which deals with MacNeice’s experiences associated with working for the BBC in London during the second Globe War. Clair Wills in That Will Neutral Island: A Cultural History involving Ireland In the Program Of Globe War II (2007) discusses MacNeice’s substitute for commit himself to London through the war. She finds it likely that, before an individual make the actual decision, he contemplated basing himself inside neutral Ireland, just as much as he gave serious thought to life in the US. Eventually, your woman recounts, MacNeice wrote: ‘I felt that I was not justified within supporting the war verbally unless I were prepared for you to suffer from this inside the way that the particular unprivileged must suffer.’ (22) and his choice to reside inside London ended up being honourably self-consistent, although the actual ‘what might possess been’ element of the feasible existence throughout America really probably contributed to the haunted, conflicted naturel of his verse thereafter. Through default, regarding course, the war brought the actual issue involving poetry’s role vis-a-vis social reality to an insurmountable crisis point. MacNeice certainly wrote lasting and affective verse about London throughout the war, through ‘London Rain’ to ‘Homage to Wren’. (23) Nevertheless understandably and, I think, clearly, your war damaged his faith in art’s agency, in liberalism, and in ‘the value of living’, thereby altering the foundations involving his aesthetic. (24)
In Canto IV of Autumn Sequel, MacNeice offers a new disconsolate account of the actual frustration of a writer swallowed entire by administrative emptiness: ‘We hack as well as hack’, reduced in order to producing propaganda, ‘miles in miles / Associated With carbon replicates rippling via the waste / Involving office hours’. (25) The Particular wartime trope of labyrinthine bureaucracy, regarding abject imprisonment inside a new fathomless administrative machine, may well certainly be well-worn, nevertheless MacNeice renders it together with something like culture shock. given his prior writing’s committed examination with the social obligations and also political effectiveness of poetry, and also given the symbolic momentousness regarding his selection to become able to commit himself for you to London throughout the war, this utterly banal experience of the writer’s disempowerment is created to seem, throughout Autumn Sequel, like having one’s nose rubbed within it.
The redundancy of a culture dominated simply by deadening bureaucracy becomes an abiding motif in MacNeice’s work, reaching a zenith in ’The Suicide’ coming from The Actual Burning Perch: ‘These are generally the bills / in your intray, your ash in the ashtray, the actual grey memoranda stacked / Against him’ … ‘and here will be the cracked / Receiver that never got mended along with here is the jotter / Together With his last doodle which might be his own digestive tract / Ulcer’. (26) Earlier, in the title poem of Visitations (1957), MacNeice proffered any vision of God: ‘he sat within his office with in-tray as well as out-tray / While nobody, nothing, arrived yet typed memoranda’. (27) Moreover, this cosmic bureaucratic vacuity gets steadily much more fused with a sense of consumerism along with reification. Throughout ‘The Tree of Guilt’ we study of ’the purchasable loves / which in turn … were purveyed / In credit through your slinking shade’. (28) Within ‘Jigsaws’, MacNeice writes:
Property! Property! let us extend Soul and body without end: A New box to live in, using airs as well as graces, Any box upon wheels which exhibits its paces, A New box that talks or perhaps that makes faces, and curtains as well as fences as good because the neighbours’ For You To keep out the particular neighbours along with keep us immured enjoying the cold canned fruit of our own labours in a new sterilized cell, unshared, insured. (29)
Terence Brown has commented upon MacNeice’s changing attitude towards consumerism:
MacNeice’s intuition to always be able to delight inside the presence of objects, things, sensations, to be able to relish common life, coexists using a slowly intensifying distaste regarding mass production. A Lot More plus more in the post-war period regarding time (as the customer society replaced the austerity of the war economy and additionally the welfarism involving socialist reconstruction under Labour), he becomes assailed by method of a a feeling of meaning, vitality, becoming drained from issues because they proliferate in the endless repetitive availability that is the particular motor regarding modern commerce. The Actual alienation he expressed along with increasing bitterness because he grew older may possess its psychological, religious and metaphysical anxieties, however its significant social context must certainly not end up being disregarded’. (30)
In 1 respect, MacNeice’s poetic turnaround in the Fifties was associated for the growing aptness and manage together with which usually he dramatized an escalating sense of this draining associated with vitality.
As early as 1927, he had complained in a letter: ‘Language is at first a new assist however finally a hindrance. When you initially title a new dog a »dog », it may help you get from its entity yet inside a little time the word « dog » gets to be a cliche so helping small in direction of the visualisation associated with dog. The Particular essence involving dog is lost while the symbol remains.’ (31) Simply By as well as large, his verse throughout his career explored this inherent problem, yet inside the late Fifties, an abiding sense develops that most words, grammatical constructions and poetic tropes are already infected from the emptiness regarding cliche. Prosodic and rhetorical conventions supply forms that are inescapable along with necessary, but which are also insubstantial and also unreal, as MacNeice’s poetic becomes haunted simply by an inner absence.
His poetry had always been drawn in order to repetition, however this gets in order to be a pivotal means of exploring emptiness and also destabilization in the late Fifties. Within particular, his verse can be increasingly dominated simply by chiasmus and chiastic-like effects, as MacNeice gets ‘a purposeful man who talks in cross / Purposes’. (32) Interestingly, Ten Burnt Offerings can be filled with such repetitive riffs: ‘Such will be water, such are we / World’s the majority of variables, continuous within our variability’; ’Blessed are your type … / who regardless involving the weight about the coronary heart have the heart in order to wait’. (33) Nevertheless such riddling twists along with inversions within a new repetitive echo-structure are the cleverly labored constructions of unruffled analytic control, describing metaphysical discombobulation rather when compared with enacting it. Within Ten Burnt Offerings, the actual rhetorical tintinnabulations are safe and sure of his or her place in the scheme of things, drably expressing the dialectic in between ‘something’ (sound, colour, being) along with ‘nothing’ (silence, monotone, negation): ‘The windblown web in which we stay / Presumes a new yawning negative, / a nothing that cries out to see / The some thing flout its vacancy’. (34) The Particular verse is as well assured inside presuming that will what it discerns within India will be pervasive through all reality: ‘Monochrome under the girl motley, monolith beneath the girl flimflam.’ (35) Lacking edge and an imaginative pulse, MacNeice’s late Fifties renaissance entailed finding a new type to make this dialectic freshly dramatic.
Superficially, if the failure involving Ten Burnt Offerings and Autumn Journal suggested the symbolic breakdown in between self along with society, his subsequent poetry’s inward turn, fuelled through dream logic, may well be understood as MacNeice’s broad reaction. feeling adrift, cut off from the particular pulse of contemporary culture, he returns inside the late Fifties to the actual self as the ground associated with lyric poetry. Throughout the Clark lectures of 1963, posthumously revealed as Varieties regarding Parable (1967), MacNeice would say: ‘People who have grown up since the war just cannot see the point a vast amount of poetry of the 1930s.’ (36) He would additionally claim: ’when composing for any mass audience, it is unlikely that will the writer today will discuss the particular required moral framework along with them’. (37) Of course, he by no means very wrote his verse to find a ‘mass audience’, yet the actual a sensation of an irreparable gulf between artist and also society is increasingly pervasive. Quoting from Edwin Honig’s dark Conceit: The Generating involving Allegory, MacNeice appropriately contextualizes the monadic individualism involving modernity as having its roots within the cultural disruptions regarding Protestantism: ‘Some explanation for your elusive pattern as well as the increasing ambiguity throughout modern allegories may become found in the particular destruction of the rigid base of cultural authority upon which allegory traditionally depended, along with within the relatively higher stress put upon the particular autonomy in the artist since the actual Reformation.’ (38)
Fast-forward for the mid-twentieth century, and the rise of monadic individualism and concomitant dispersal associated with culture as a continuous communal space establishes parable because the contemporary successor to allegory. Parable is always to allegory what Imagism would become to Symbolism: an established fixity involving associations provides method to one thing at the same time more concrete and significantly more indefinite. MacNeice’s own the majority of compelling definition of parable can be his most open-ended: ‘any kind of enigmatical or perhaps darkish saying’. (39) Peter McDonald, having a nod to the failures with the early Fifties, writes: ‘Parable, for MacNeice, came increasingly for you to imply incompleteness inside its execution, and, using this incompleteness, its incorporation into lyric poetry became more feasible. Indeterminate parable will become the schedule of the poetry’s achievement throughout Solstices as well as The Particular Burning Perch’. (40)
Although the particular change in tenor involving MacNeice’s inner turn, fuelled by indeterminate parable, is distinct, it could end up being wrong in order to suggest it was an absolute recantation associated with art’s communal reach. Rather, it provided an even more ambivalent framework better suited for you to changed times. ’In the actual 1930′s’, he writes, ‘we used to say that the poet must contain the particular journalist; now I would tend more regularly in order to use »contain » in the sense of control as well as limit. I nevertheless maintain that a poet will need to look at, feel about and consider the planet around him, but he shouldn’t suppose his occupation consists merely within reporting it. What the poet is way more worried along with is the fact that « inner conflict ».’ (41) yet this ‘inner conflict’ still entails your social and also symbolic contexts within that individuality experiences its crises. MacNeice claims: ‘Given exactly the particular same historical and geographical background, many people’s privacies tend to overlap.’ (42) As Well As so, first and foremost, dream logic and parable suggest your discarnate isolation in the dead-ended contemporary: ’He slept aloft on a sarsen stone / Dreaming to, dreaming fro, / And the more he dreamt was the harder alone’. (43) Yet, in the same time, the inward turn will be essential to reconceive the particular aesthetic connections among self along with society. in ‘Donegal Triptych’ MacNeice writes involving ‘Once much more having entered solitude once again to find communion / Using additional solitary beings, using the total race of men’. (44) This specific idea he requires from the Marxist critic Christopher Caudwell, whom he also cites inside Varieties of Parable, and whom wrote of ’that paradox associated with art–man withdrawing through his fellows straight into the world of art, and then enter much more closely directly into communion with history’. (45)
Clearly, within the best in the late poems, such communion requires a distorted and often desperate path. Our privacies overlap, nevertheless only deep within an endless, distorting web of shared isolation. But nonetheless, as Caudwell’s paradox suggests, your late verse remains inherently dialectic. And Also despite the particular magnitude in the transformation wrought within MacNeice’s late verse, within this respect it shares the same supply of poetic energy with his Thirties poetry, that ended up being itself dialectically fired through scepticism and self-doubt. MacNeice was a foppishly solipsistic modernist within his juvenilia. Such As Auden, he willed his artwork away from overt alienation since the Thirties wore on; but sensitivity towards the reification, automation and also heightening vacuity of culture pervades even the most socially dedicated poetry involving both. While Auden, after the second Globe War, became and also remained loose-lined and verbose, MacNeice’s response to his or the girl own dull spell of discursiveness would have been to revisit the particular disjointed along with strange-toned atmosphere associated with early Auden–the sort of diagnostic estrangement from which generic Thirties poetry arose in the initial place. in the particular Thirties, MacNeice mostly turned via negation to concentrate around the positive, although in the Fifties he increasingly reversed this direction. yet his best work of every decade ultimately gains poetic lifestyle from a sprung dialectic, which MacNeice had lost in the drift in the early Fifties.
MacNeice’s repetitions and chiastic-like effects, for example, create a paradox of movement and also stasis. Nevertheless the strategy will be variable. In the particular best regarding his late verse he can ensure it is convey how situations are both singular and also multiple at the identical time. It could imply the actual imprisonment of the ever-same, a real possibility monotonous and also fixed. or it could suggest how the slightest change within sameness might be all-important along with liberating: ’For the last blossom is actually the really first blossom / and the initial blossom is your greatest blossom / Along With when through Eden we consider our means / the morning after is actually the really first day’. (46) Your must reiterate to be able to express sameness opens up any potentially redemptive chink regarding freedom:
As Well As that that was nowhere now ended up being here And Also here had been all and most sorts of was good; between the actual lines the language had been strange yet not to be misunderstood. Your glad flowers talked along with tongues regarding flame And Also who had been he was not the actual same. (47)
Yet from exactly the particular same time, the particular inverse can be true, and the transitions within repetitions can be abysms, destroying what ought to seemingly be stable. Since ‘Variation on Heraclitus’ puts it: ’Reappearance presumes disappearance’. (48) Essentially, MacNeice’s late-Fifties poetry arrives to always be able to jolting lifestyle when the variability inherent inside repetition can be endowed by having an authentic sense of unpredictability: in the large event it gets to be a hinge for your unexpected, when the particular good and bad areas of the particular trope are in competition. In turn, this animation depends upon matters regarding rhythm, syntax and structure; but also upon the extent to always be able to that MacNeice would use the trope to radically challenge his poetry’s a sensation of self.
His poetry’s repetitions truly come into their very own in exploring your paradox of the self because it is perceived throughout differing times, places, contexts, moods: usually the particular same, always different. In MacNeice’s late verse, the particular self’s capability to keep throughout mind or imagine itself in just about any other case becomes, in times, virtually psychotropic. The ability for you to manage reflexively shifting self-perceptions is actually lost; the stable centre that may usually keep shifting perspectives in perspective vanishes, using the result which they are usually experienced as full-scale metamorphoses and also displacements. the thought is actually planted in Autumn Sequel, in the childhood memory the spot exactly where the family’s cook says at bedtime: ‘Aye, you’re here now–but anyone can’t predict / where you will become when you wake up’. (It will be telling, regarding course, that will the privileged Protestant’s dislocation is actually assisted together through ‘A Catholic farmer’s daughter through Fivemiletown’ employed through his family.) (49) Throughout Visitations the particular motif starts to recur along with frequency. In ‘The Tree regarding Guilt’: ‘he finds later, waking cold, / … his craved heart, though vastly grown, / Not Really recognizably his own’. (50) Much More black-humoured, within ‘Jigsaws’, after surgery:
Clean in the knife and coming to, I requested myself could this end up being I These People had just cut up. ‘Oh no, certainly not you, Certainly not!’ came the reply (51)
Such disorientations are, associated with course, commensurate with all the dream logic in which increasingly informs your poems through Visitations onwards. But what will be striking is actually how your poetry’s dysmorphic hallucinations are usually propelled from the difference-in-identity dialectic of MacNeice’s rhetorical and also prosodic repetitions, as poetic form itself gives shaping force to increasingly poor trips.
This charged formal intensity distinguishes MacNeice’s late verse. The Particular poetry vividly explores the sense that ‘I is another’, however registers this as becoming a disaster; it memorably proffers an expertise involving reality as unstable, but really does consequently with alarm and nausea; it effectively warps conventional poetic form, nevertheless really does consequently with taut and innovative prosodic skill. Within such ways, it faces the shifting cultural coordinates regarding history using genuine bite. Pertaining To example, the dislocation between interior and also exterior realms will be acute, precisely simply because the verse doesn’t vacuously flip its again on their own troubled coexistence. Your continued juxtaposition of ‘Indoors’ and ’Outdoors’ inside ‘House on a Cliff’, and also the continuities between the two, makes the poem’s atmosphere of isolation, stasis along with breakdown all the much more desolate: ‘Indoors the tang of your tiny oil lamp. Outdoors / the winking signal around the waste of the sea. / Indoors the sound of the wind. Outdoors the wind’, (52) Rather than the usual merely indulgent introversion, the actual continual juxtapositions suggest in which each realms successfully taunt 1 another, giving rise to a huge futility, here generated through asyndeton (the omission associated with conjunctions), which in turn Edna Longley provides noted as an integral device of late MacNeice. Asyndeton, the lady explains, produces effects of compression and also fragmentation: ‘It suggests that you will find black holes rather than cosmic links in between phenomena.’ (53) Thus the poem brings the 2 realms together, while suggesting an incommensurability in which exists inside as well as through their particular interrelation.
Such antinomian workings are generally everywhere. The Particular utter disintegration of ‘Reflections’ is actually generated coming from controlled precision and accuracy: ‘The normal / Lamp arrives thrice during my mirror, twice in my window, / Your fire inside the mirror lies a pair of rooms away by means of the window, / The Actual fire inside the window lies one room away along the terrace, / My actual space appears sandwiched in between confections / Involving night and lights as well as glass’. (54) Your late verse creates haunting results of disembodiment, however this is very best suited once the poems have reached their own most concrete. Throughout sum, the particular dialectical technique ensures that, although the vision with the poetry can be uncompromising, within its bleakness it also conveys any sense of how things might be otherwise–the circumstances for resolution are usually implied within the articulation regarding dissolution–which gives the verse force and also consequence, a new dramatic intimation that something fundamental is at stake.
Much has been made of MacNeice’s concept of poetic structure, in relation to the parable-like verse. in his essay ‘Experiences with Images’, he explained that, since Autumn Journal:
I have been eschewing the particular news-reel as well as attempting any stricter type of drama which mainly depends upon structure. On analysis … this structural tightening-up generally seems to involve four things: (1) the particular choice of–or possibly the becoming selected by–a single theme which in turn itself is actually a strong symbol, (2) the rhythmical pattern which in turn holds in which theme together, (3) syntax (a more cautious purchasing associated with sentences, specifically in relation for the verse pattern), and also (4) an even more structural use regarding imagery. (55)
This emphasis about ‘structural tightening-up’ can, I think, distract through how brilliantly irregular significantly of the late poetry is. In itself, MacNeice’s statement arguably describes an overly smooth, controlled and so potentially boring a sensation of poetic structure. Indeed, ‘Experience using Images’ had been printed within 1949, and therefore partially explains the particular diffuse flatness in the early Fifties long poems. However then again, the tight construction of the successful late, short lyrics can be unquestionably central with their all-important compression along with tautness. That would seem this centered regulation of structure will come in order to life in the event it embraces disorder.
Writing regarding MacNeice’s ‘non-structural imagery’, Terence Brown argues:
Images float clear of poems, bright, particular, unrelated to the structures which usually that they fracture, for you to suggest the particular independence, the actual nominal nature, in the sense impressions that they capture. The poems’ structures fragment rotmg cheats to become able to suggest a new sceptical distrust regarding even these poems’ personal organisation. Such poems suggest the particular plural disorganisation of an encounter which refuses being captured entirely inside a poem, inside a structural form’. (56)
What seems fascinating is how, within the tightly structured late poems, any similar impact is actually registered. the poems are generally coherently, even meticulously, organized yet their cautious arrangement serves to always be able to generate derangement: his or her organisation is actually firmly provided yet troublesome; their structural form captures precisely a new plural disorganisation of experience that remains beyond rational comprehension. The Particular late style reaches its peak when MacNeice’s line, rhythm, syntax, rhymes and repetitions operate in concert, nevertheless more so, when their extraordinary orchestration bewilders using purposive glitches as well as dissonance.
It consequently seems pertinent to finish by searching closer from this uncanny prosody inside action. ‘All over Again’, written in 1959 and placed because the final poem in Solstices, is at many various ways the actual crown of MacNeice’s function from the Fifties. Counterpointing the actual darkness of much with the book, it brings what to a new near using a strikingly bright shift in tone, while, unpunctuated as well as in long, loosely hexameter lines, it also brings the particular book’s formal adventurousness to a rousing climax. Within many ways, ‘All over Again’ is truly a summation of MacNeice’s many haunted love poems. Its opening lines tend to be saturated with nostalgic enchantment. And Also yet, the poem’s rhythmic swoon is not sustained all through the particular poem. Exactly what begins practically as song becomes difficult to read aloud:
Since if I had recognized an individual for any extended time drink to me just if These frontiers had in zero way changed about the mad map with the years As Well As the whole tears were earned and in addition this had been the very first cliff Via that we embraced your sea as well as they were the initial words We spread to lure the particular birds that will nested within our day Since if it had been always morning their particular dawnsong theirs and also ours Along With waking nobody otherwise me and you just now under the brow of a blue as well as imperturbable hill Exactly Where still occasion is an acronym and also plays his bland along with hemlock pipe As Well As the particular ripe moment tugs but declines to be able to fall as well as all Your a long time we had not achieved forget by themselves within this 1 kiss ingathered world along with outward rippling bell In Order To the rim in the cup associated with heaven by leaving it merely there near into way blue into blue almost all more than again Notwithstanding unique all total again Associated With which in turn to communicate demands new fires with the tongue a few trick Involving the lighting in the dark in the muted voice of the turning wild world but relaxed in her storm gay in her own ancient rocks For You To preserve nowadays one kiss on this skybound timeless cup Nor now shall I request pertaining to something more of future as well as past This kind of getting final along with 1st sound sight upon eyes and also ears Along With each and also every lengthy then where there suspended in this cliff Shining and slicing edge which reflects sunlight as if This particular one In Between had been Just About All so we in enjoy regarding years. (57)
MacNeice provides planted several kinks as well as wrinkles to become able to problems the actual tongue. The poem’s song-like cadence gets de-tuned: it seems to be able to pick up radio static halfway through.
To be sure, an ardent sonority presides. And Also yet, the actual buckling of its flow subtly distorts the entire tone along with timbre. MacNeice makes heavy use involving enjambment, in order that many of the clauses of the poem’s long lines tend to be spooled more than in in order to the next. This specific is sometimes carried out with super-sinuous fluency but, with times, it actually is disjunctive. Meanwhile, on several occasions, there’s a tongue-tripping rhythmic breakdown midline. Along With these two factors are in the actual nub in the poem: why it takes a degree of will as well as effort to hold it together. MacNeice has established a beguiling but subjective encounter for the reader. While one begins to reread ‘All More Than Again’, it really is difficult to realize how it is going to always be able to run. the encounter is unique about every reading. At times it seems for you to unravel, but at various other times it almost burns along with resplendence.
Throughout his career, MacNeice constantly manipulated rhyme as a motor of rhythm, and also ‘All over Again’ constitutes a high point in this regard. the poem repeatedly rhymes more than the aim of enjambment, so that the end-word frequently rhymes having a word close to the start of the next line. And Also this gives any wave-like momentum to the lines, creating the poem’s crucial ‘he’s lost it; oh, no, he’s got it back again’ sensation. Meanwhile, your end-rhyme ’cliff’ / ‘if’ more than the penultimate a couple of lines creates the reversed echo of the ‘if’ / ‘cliff’ end-rhyme from your poem’s beginning, as the end-rhyme of ’ears’ and ‘years’ in the poem’s conclusion further echo back to the ‘years’ as well as ‘tears’ associated with its opening, adding to the poem’s ‘back to where we began only different’ effect.
While such devices produce fluency, this gets distorted, here and there, by a slow spondee over the caesura: ‘World but calm inside her storm gay in their ancient rocks’. Inside other places, an iambic trot at the end of your line crashes directly into 2 trochees at the start of the next (‘voice in the turning wild / Globe but relaxed in their storm’). This is specially noticeable because, elsewhere, the poem’s rhyming offers set up an expectation involving flow precisely at the idea of enjambment. other lines tend to be slightly skewed by bearing the physique weight regarding an extra stress, creating a wobble inside the rhythmic continuity, for example: ’Notwithstanding unique all over all again’, as well as ‘This being final as well as initial sound sight about eyes along with ears’. Then again, this may be clearly manipulated to occur with a number of the poem’s crucial moments.
By such prosodic means, your poem creates its double effect of sonority along with elusive malformation. Throughout many ways, this can become a poem of cliches, specifically inside the context involving MacNeice’s very own oeuvre. As such, the actual poem seems to become playing a game having its very own generic phrasing, as if browsing out your restrictions associated with what it really could potentially get away with. Presently there can be little doubt that a large section of its appeal stems from its atmosphere of wistful entrancement. and immediate recognition is crucial to its nostalgic ambience, partially secured from the opening echo involving Ben Jonson’s ‘Song To Always Be Able To Celia’ (‘Drink to me simply with thine eyes / And I Also will pledge together with mine; / or depart a new kiss inside the cup, / And Also I’ll not really ask for wine), itself produced well-liked when set to music inside the eighteenth century. (58) However familiarity furthermore will come to ’All over Again’ from the dizzying remix regarding images from MacNeice’s personal earlier lyrics. It practically reads as a sequel to ’Meeting Point’: its ‘rippling bell’ finally lets the bell that was ‘silent in the air’, in the earlier poem, ring out. (59) The Particular poem also echoes ‘The Heated Minutes’ (‘If anyone had been only here / Amongst these rocks’), (60) as well as ’The Brandy Glass’ (‘Only allow it form within his hands once more–/ Your moment cradled being a brandy glass’). (61)
This go back to archetypes helps make ‘All over Again’ sound like a new coda to just about all or even any MacNeice’s enjoy poems. Along With it is on this context that your opening a couple of words demonstrate the majority of potent: ‘As if’. on the ’As if’ effect, Edna Longley argues that, because the poem’s clauses swell out, ‘we tend to be seduced into accepting your conditional as the actual really indicative’. This, Longley suggests, will be answer to the dreamlike quality involving the poem: ‘Suspension of the laws of your current time is dramatized by simply virtual suspension of the rule of grammar that requires a main statement.’ (62) but the actual ‘As if’ effect also creates a new subtle fringe of scepticism, which in turn adds for the poem’s faint aura involving disturbance. Throughout this sense, the particular ‘As if’ clause is potentially devastating: ‘As if I had recognized you’ will always suggest, deep down, ‘Although I have never known you’.
In many of MacNeice’s final poems, the close to future recedes along with the present breaks down right straight into a mortuary regarding empty signs and the labyrinthine phantoms with the past. ‘All over Again’ seems to become subtly, structurally infected simply by this imprisonment within a limitless procedure of recycling. Your poem’s bright warmth can be softly palled through the self-diminishment regarding its conditional nature. the way throughout which MacNeice’s ‘Again’ shatters the finality regarding his ’Over’ underlines his kinship using Samuel Beckett. But nevertheless, to the extent which formal circularity gets 1 of MacNeice’s central tropes, your swooping fervour regarding ‘All Over Again’ provides one of his the majority of redemptive represents it.
In specific respects, ‘All over Again’ echoes MacNeice’s ‘Snow’: ‘On the actual tongue on the eyes in the ears in the actual palms involving one’s hands–/ There is greater than glass between the snow and in addition the massive roses’. (63) ‘All Over Again’ similarly opens out to multiple senses towards its conclusion: ‘last as well as very first sound sight on eyes and ears’. Moreover, just as ‘Snow’ ends ‘between’, ‘All Over Again’ ends imagining ‘This 1 Among were All’. Writing on ‘Snow’, Edna Longley locates its a feeling of being ’between’ in one’s heart associated with MacNeice’s poetic, with what she calls his ‘dialectic in between conjunction as well as disjunction’. (64) Along With 1 may well claim that the particular deregulated order, your oddly skewed balance, associated with ‘All More Than Again’, constitutes 1 of MacNeice’s many vivid as well as indelible soundings-out of this knife-edged simultaneity involving link and separation, completion and negation. Your poem attempts to make the moment associated with meeting among lovers all consuming. But, involving course, this is still precluded from the (repeated) ’as if’; and furthermore the two states, the 2 words, remain apart: ’Between’ as well as ‘All’ forever riven simply by difference. As such, a cold irony can be coated throughout affirmative colour. But ‘All Over Again’ is an acronym as certainly 1 of MacNeice’s nearly all abiding attempts to let emotive musicality drown out irony, because the poem attempts to hoodwink sense via sound, attempting to produce the illusion of consummation through the actual sensual animation associated with its very own moment, its extremely own poetic performance.
As inside various other parable style poems, MacNeice here pares language and imagery right down to an archetypal core, in order that a new sly surface simplicity belies an undertow associated with complexity. Each And Also Every image or even clause inside ‘All Over Again’ offers little particularized depth. Instead, the poem’s propulsive prosody sweeps forward to ensure that the meaning or even message is almost drowned out by the sound, as the language becomes a vessel of driven energy. However, the poem’s Edenic motifs along with Romantic rhetoric furthermore create a type of aura, together with instant recognizability. As such, the nature with the poem’s dreamtime language is aesthetically compelling: bearing at once any film-like haze and insubstantiality, but within addition a core of deeply charged emotive content, which is at the identical time fuelled together with personal intensity, but which is also oddly de-individuated to adopt with an emblematic power. Nevertheless the poem’s ultimate stability originates from its marriage regarding form and sentiment, as MacNeice pushes the State involving One-ness and in addition the State of Between-ness preternaturally close. As if by magic, within the moment regarding the poem’s performance, that they manage to interweave. Yet, of course, in the poem’s aftermath they will remain apart. Which momentary illusion of their fleeting fusion, both any starting and an end, utterly depends upon the musicality with the entire poem. And Also to be able to relive the particular moment, we must begin all over again.
In such ways, MacNeice’s late poems emphatically mess around with one’s feeling of time, and thus, ultimately, with one’s sense of the pad as well as texture, the solidity along with stability, involving reality. The following quotation offers an insightful analysis regarding their particular style:
[T]he breakdown regarding temporality suddenly releases this current of occasion via all involving the activities as well as intentionalities that may focus it and also make it a room associated with praxis; thereby isolated, which present suddenly engulfs the topic along with indescribable vividness, a materiality regarding perception correctly overwhelming…. This particular existing of the planet or material signifier will come before the topic with heightened intensity, bearing a new mysterious charge regarding affect, here described inside the negative relation to anxiety and loss associated with reality, but that 1 could just also imagine inside the positive terms of euphoria, a high, an intoxicatory as well as hallucinogenic intensity. (65)
While this passage, I think, illuminates the ‘dark sayings’ involving MacNeice’s parable poems, it is in fact taken from Fredric Jameson’s essay ‘The Cultural Logic associated with Late Capitalism’. in turn, this indicates how MacNeice’s late poetry represents to be able to us, throughout vivid form, Jameson’s sense of the realities of our contemporary culture, which, he claims:
has finally succeeded throughout transcending the capacities associated with the individual human body in order to locate itself, to organize its immediate area perceptually, and also cognitively to map its position in a mappable external world. It may now be suggested that this alarming disjunction point between the body and its built environment … may itself stand because the symbol and analogon of that even sharper dilemma that is your incapacity of our minds, at least at present, for you to map the great global multinational along with decentered communicational network in which we discover ourselves caught as individual subjects. (66)
Of course, it is really a push to declare MacNeice like a prophet of postmodernity, but the intoxicating and troubling force regarding his late verse nonetheless vibrates loudly through our deeply vexed present.
(1.) Austin Clarke, Collected Poems (Manchester: Carcanet, 2008).
(2.) Patrick Kavanagh, Collected Poems (London: Penguin, 2005). For a recent dialogue in the ‘noo pomes’, notice John Goodby, ’ »In Blinking Blankness »: The Past Poems’, in Patrick Kavanagh, ed. simply by Stan Smith (Dublin: Irish Academic Press, 2009), pp.145-62.
(3.) With Regard To a new comparison regarding Kavanagh and MacNeice, see Alan Gillis, ’ »Ireland will be Tiny Enough »: Louis MacNeice and Patrick Kavanagh’, inside a Companion to always be able to Irish Literature, Volume Two, ed. Judith M. Wright (Oxford: Blackwell, 2010), pp.159-75.
(4.) The Particular influence associated with MacNeice upon Larkin is newly discussed by Stephen Regan, ‘ »Coining up England by a different line »: Louis MacNeice along with Philip Larkin’, in Incorrigibly Plural: Louis MacNeice and the Influence, ed. simply by Fran Brearton and also Edna Longley (Manchester: Carcanet, 2012).
(5.) Michael Longley, ‘Introduction’, Louis MacNeice: Poems Selected simply by Michael Longley (London: Faber and Faber, 2001), p.x.
(6.) Jon Stallworthy, Louis MacNeice, new ed. (London: Faber and Faber, 1996), p.415.
(7.) Michael Longley, ‘Introduction’, Louis MacNeice: Poems Selected by Michael Longley (London: Faber as well as Faber, 2001), p.x.
(8.) Louis MacNeice, Selected Letters of Louis MacNeice, ed. by Jonathan Allison (London: Faber and also Faber, 2010), pp.561-2.
(9.) Louis MacNeice, Collected Poems, ed. simply by Peter McDonald (London: Faber and Faber, 2007), p.793.
(10.) Edna Longley, Louis MacNeice: The Research (London: Faber and Faber, 1988), p.115.
(11.) Louis MacNeice, ‘An Alphabet of Literary Prejudices’ (1948), throughout Selected Literary Criticism regarding Louis MacNeice, ed. by Alan Heuser (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1987), p.143.
(12.) MacNeice, Selected Letters, p.572.
(13.) MacNeice, Collected Poems, p.793.
(14.) Peter McDonald, Louis MacNeice: The Particular Poet throughout His Contexts (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1991), p.171.
(15.) Longley, Louis MacNeice: a Study, p.117.
(16.) Louis MacNeice, The Actual Poetry regarding W. B. Yeats (1941), 2nd edn (London: Faber as well as Faber, 1967), p.26.
(17.) McDonald, Louis MacNeice: The Particular Poet throughout His Contexts, p.153.
(18.) Al Alvarez, ‘Lament for a Maker’, Your New Statesman, 11 December 1954, 794. Cited throughout Stallworthy, Louis MacNeice, p.411.
(19.) Stallworthy, Louis MacNeice, p.414.
(20.) MacNeice, ‘Day of Renewal’, Collected Poems, p.349.
(21.) MacNeice, Collected Poems, p.392.
(22.) Clair Wills, that Neutral Island: The Cultural History of Ireland during Globe War II (London: Faber and also Faber, 2007), p.77.
(23.) MacNeice, Collected Poems, p.172, p.536.
(24.) Within The Poetry involving W. B. Yeats, MacNeice had declared: ’The faith within the value of living can become a mystical faith. the pleasure in bathing or perhaps dancing, inside colour or even shape, is really a mystical experience …’, p.16.
(25.) MacNeice, Collected Poems, p.388.
(26.) MacNeice, Collected Poems, p.579.
(27.) MacNeice, Collected Poems, p.523.
(28.) MacNeice, Collected Poems, p.515.
(29.) MacNeice, Collected Poems, p.509.
(30.) Terence Brown, The Actual Literature involving Ireland: Culture and Criticism (Cambridge: Cambridge University Or College Press, 2010), pp.163-4.
(31.) MacNeice, Selected Letters, p.176.
(32.) MacNeice, ‘House on a Cliff’, Collected Poems, p.516.
(33.) MacNeice, Collected Poems, p.342, p.335.
(34.) MacNeice, Collected Poems, p.318.
(35.) MacNeice, Collected Poems, p.332.
(36.) Louis MacNeice, Varieties involving Parable (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1965), p.22.
(37.) MacNeice, Varieties regarding Parable, p.9.
(38.) MacNeice, Varieties of Parable, p.28.
(39.) MacNeice, Varieties regarding Parable, p.2.
(40.) McDonald, Louis MacNeice: The Particular Poet within His Contexts, p.171.
(41.) MacNeice, Varieties involving Parable, p.8.
(42.) MacNeice, Varieties of Parable, p.27.
(43.) MacNeice, ‘The Burnt Bridge’, Collected Poems, p.514.
(44.) MacNeice, Collected Poems, p.501.
(45.) Christopher Caudwell, Illusion along with Reality: The study involving the Sources of Poetry (London: Lawrence as well as Wishart, 1946), p.155.
(46.) MacNeice, ‘Apple Blossom’, Collected Poems, p.527.
(47.) MacNeice, ‘Solstice’, Collected Poems, p.544.
(48.) MacNeice, Collected Poems, p.560.
(49.) MacNeice, Collected Poems, pp.447-8.
(50.) MacNeice, Collected Poems, p.515.
(51.) MacNeice, Collected Poems, p.511.
(52.) MacNeice, Collected Poems, p.516.
(53.) Edna Longley, Louis MacNeice: A New Study, p.127.
(54.) MacNeice, Collected Poems, p.561.
(55.) MacNeice, Selected Literary Criticism, pp.161-2.
(56.) Terence Brown, Louis MacNeice: Sceptical Vision (Dublin: Macmillan, 1975), p.129.
(57.) MacNeice, Collected Poems, pp.572-3.
(58.) Ben Jonson, ‘Song in order to Celia’, Your complete Poems (London: Penguin, 1981), p.106.
(59.) MacNeice, Collected Poems, p.183.
(60.) MacNeice, Collected Poems, p.59.
(61.) MacNeice, Collected Poems, p.92.
(62.) MacNeice, Collected Poems, pp.219-20.
(63.) MacNeice, Collected Poems, p.24.
(64.) Edna Longley, The Actual Living Stream: Literature and Revisionism in Ireland (Newcastle: Bloodaxe, 1994), pp.258-62.
(65.) Fredric Jameson, ‘Postmodernism, as well as Your Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism’, The Actual Jameson Reader, ed. by simply Michael Hardt and Kathi Weeks (Oxford: Blackwell, 2000), p.210.
(66.) Fredric Jameson, ‘The Cultural Logic associated with Late Capitalism’, p.223.