Dublin

Louis Macneice 1907 (Belfast) – 1963 (London)



Grey brick upon brick,
                  Declamatory bronze
                  On sombre pedestals –
                  O’Connell, Grattan, Moore
                  And the brewery tugs and the swans
                  On the balustraded stream
                  And the bare bones of a fanlight
                  Over a hungry door
                  And the air soft on the cheek
                  And porter running from the taps
                  With a head of yellow cream
                  And Nelson on his pillar
                  Watching his world collapse.
               
                  This was never my town,
                  I was not born nor bred
                  Nor schooled here and she will not
                  Have me alive or dead
                  But yet she holds my mind
                  With her seedy elegance,
                  With her gentle veils of rain
                  And all her ghosts that walk
                  And all that hide behind
                  Her Georgian façades –
                  The catcalls and the pain,
                  The glamour of her squalor,
                  The bravado of her talk.
               
                  The lights jig in the river
                  With a concertina movement
                  And the sun comes up in the morning
                  Like barley-sugar on the water
                  And the mist on the Wicklow hills
                  Is close, as close
                  As the peasantry were to the landlord,
                  As the Irish to the Anglo-Irish,
                  As the killer is close one moment
                  To the man he kills,
                  Or as the moment itself
                  Is close to the next moment.
               
                  She is not an Irish town
                  And she is not English,
                  Historic with guns and vermin
                  And the cold renown
                  Of a fragment of Church Latin,
                  Of an oratorical phrase.
                  But oh the days are soft,
                  Soft enough to forget
                  The lesson better learnt,
                  The bullet on the wet
                  Streets, the crooked deal,
                  The steel behind the laugh,
                  The Four Courts burnt.
               
                  Fort of the Dane,
                  Garrison of the Saxon,
                  Augustan capital
                  Of a Gaelic nation,
                  Appropriating all
                  The alien brought,
                  You give me time for thought
                  And by a juggler’s trick
                  You poise the toppling hour –
                  O greyness run to flower
                  Grey stone, grey water,
                  And brick upon grey brick.
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Submitted by ericp.27162 on March 10, 2021

Modified on April 21, 2023

1:34 min read
161

Quick analysis:

Scheme ABXXBCDXXECFE GDDDDXHIDXHFI FDXFJXDKDJXD GKXGLXDDDDXXD HLXLXDDAFFFA
Closest metre Iambic trimeter
Characters 2,778
Words 315
Stanzas 5
Stanza Lengths 13, 13, 12, 13, 12

Louis Macneice

Louis MacNeice was an Anglo-Irish poet and playwright. His "Autumn Journal" is an autobiographical poem for Autumn 1938. more…

All Louis Macneice poems | Louis Macneice Books

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