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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

1:34 min read
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Louis Macneice

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

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