AUTUMN JOURNAL by the same author THE EARTH COMPELS OUT OF THE PICTURE POEMS AUTUMN JOURNAL a poem by LOUIS MACNEICE Faber and . 8 quotes from Autumn Journal: ‘September has come, it is hersWhose vitality leaps in the autumn,Whose nature prefersTrees without leaves and a fire in. Written between August and December , Autumn Journal is still Louis MacNeice was born in Belfast in , the son of a Church of Ireland rector, later a.
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I dle M artyr: M ac N eice’s A utumn J ournal. Louis MacNeice—born a century ago this month and dead these 44 years— typified himself as a poet of the s but aitumn proves to be a poet for our times. To be fair, he was never quite the man of action the fascist or anti-fascist era demanded: He needed another way to engage the world around him, and engage he did: Last autumn, with dangerously high pressure in my glaucoma-ridden left eye, I reread Autumn Journal at the rate of about one section every two days.
The eye drops I was using had a beneficial side-effect of making me less far-sighted, but they also made everything look dark. This vividness, which makes London feel like a living character in the poem, is essential to the understanding of what was at stake for both of us, in our two parallel autumns—as in section V: A smell of French bread in Charlotte Street, a rustle. And suddenly from the Zoo I hear a sea-lion.
And so to my flat with autuumn trees outside the window. And the dahlia shapes of the lights on Primrose Hill. This is, therefore, a personal reading of Autumn Journalas well as a however slightly critical one.
It was tempting just to type out the whole 56 or 80, depending on edition pages and simply let the poem speak for itself. Then, as I wrote, it became equally tempting to break it down and write something three times the length; but there is no time. Autumn Journal now stands as a time capsule, a page moment in which the reader just knows what it was like to be alive, in London, in those few months.
MacNeice is worldly and, however tired, still full of appetite for the moment.
His viewpoint is subjective, and as such is by definition autummn. World War I journap known even now in England as the Great War is a palpable presence throughout the poem, casting its cypress shadows everywhere. Certainly people were prepared, once war broke out, for the Nazis to invade Britain. In his prefatory note he writes: But I was writing what I have called a Journal.
It is the nature of this poem to be neither final nor balanced.
Autumn Journal – Irish poem | Ireland Calling
I have certain beliefs which, I hope, emerge in the course of it but which I have refused to abstract from the context. For this reason I shall probably be called a trimmer by some and a sentimentalist by others. This personal element is important. However reserved he was in company, his life and his feelings are in the foreground of his verse. In those months MacNeice felt the international crisis in light of his personal crisis, and vice versa. In just this way I read his poem last year joyrnal a state of generalised anxiety, with newspaper headlines howling about a different international crisis, on the chairs in hospital waiting rooms.
This seemed very fitting at the time, as of course any reading—which is a reciprocal activity—must include the circumstances of the reader. Inin Modern Poetry: In fact, on February 7 thEliot wrote to MacNeice with his own analysis that this was the strength of the poem: At times I was much moved, and what is still more unusual in the case of a single long poem, I found that I read it iournal without my interest flagging at any point.
That is due partly to the dexterity with which you vary the versification, and, I think, to the fact that the imagery is all imagery of things lived through, and not merely chosen for poetic effectiveness. The fact remains that Eliot was right about Autumn Journal. Around November, Eliot wrote to MacNeice asking for a statement about the poem to jiurnal for the catalogues, as Autumn Journal was slated for spring publication.
A long poem from 2, to 3, lines written from August to December Not strictly a journal but giving the tenor of my emotional experiences during that period. It is about everything which from first-hand experience I consider important.
It is written in sections averaging about 80 lines in length. This division maacneice it a dramatic quality, as different parts of myself e. It contains rapportage [ sic ], metaphysics, ethics, lyrical emotion, autobiography, nightmare. It is written throughout in an elastic kind of quatrain. This form a gives the whole poem a formal unity but b saves it from monotony by allowing it a great range of appropriate variations.
Full text of “Autumn Journal”
The writing is direct; anyone could understand it. I think this is my best work to date; it is both a panorama and a confession of faith. The poem opens at last! He is leaving Hampshire and going back to London. This section sets the First War as backdrop to the same peaceful gentility that is about to be blown apart by the second one: Close and slow, the summer is ending in Hampshire.
Ebbing away down ramps of shaven lawn where close-clipped yew. Insulates the lives of retired generals and admirals. And the spyglasses hung jornal the hall and the prayer-books ready in the pew. And the spinster sitting in a deck-chair picking up stitches. And I am in the train now too and summer is going. South as I go north.
Bound for the dead leaves falling, the burning bonfire. The dying that brings forth. The frost that kills the germs of laissez-faire. A Studyexpands on this: Outworn modes of thought as well as of behaviour contribute to laissez-faire. London is indeed pregnant with something throughout the poem, and it manifests itself both materially and in behaviour. Hitler yells on the wireless.
The night is damp and still.
And I hear dull blows on wood outside my window. They are cutting down the trees on Primrose Hill. The macneicr is white like the roast flesh of chicken.
Each tree falling like a closing fan. No more looking at the view from seats beneath the branches. Everything is going to plan. They want the crest of this hill for anti-aircraft.
The guns will take the view.
Autumn Journal Quotes
And searchlights probe the heavens for bacilli. With narrow wands of blue. The day after this tree-chopping MacNeice went to stay with a friend, he was so depressed by it. To this day there are no trees on the top of Primrose Hill; one can only imagine it. This section ends with a cynical glimpse of modern love, or what passes for it, and sweeps us down the escalator into the troubled final months of —and beyond. Of every tired aubade and maudlin madrigal. The faded airs of sexual attraction. Wandering like dead leaves along a warehouse wall: I loved her long.
With my office hours, with flowers and sirens. With my budget, my latchkey and my daily bread. This description of the manner of love—and its overt mention of jazz—are so evocative that I feel this is the moment to point out the debt this poem owes the atmosphere and rhythms of jazz. The London MacNeice lived in that autumn was full of sex, cigarette smoke, drink, and music for dancing: In Tottenham Court road the tarts and negroes.
Loiter beneath the lights. And the breeze gets colder as on so many other. Give us the songs of Harlem or Mitylene —.
Written at jokrnal as events unfolded—a quality MacNeice gave linguistic body to with his run-on sentences, lists, changes of register and piled-on subject matter — Autumn Journal is, in large part, a riff.
Parts of it make almost no sense if you try, like a Victorian schoolmarm, to parse them. The poem — like life—works against that classifying aesthetic, as it flows and swirls. The closer the poet gets to his destination, and real life, the more the personal and general are mixed together.
And so to London and down the ever-moving Stairs. Where a warm wind blows the bodies of men together. And blows apart their complexes and cares. MacNeice was afflicted all his life with nightmares; they were a big feature, traceable back to the time when he was five, and his mother was taken away to the asylum, never to return.
Noli me tangeremy soul is forfeit. As he said macnneice his note to Eliot, the structure of the poem allows his different personae each to get a say in turn, and the nightmare monologue of Section II also contains, like the overture of an opera, many of the motifs that follow.