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Let us make. And set the weather fair.

For Poetry Monday, breaking another of my rules of thumb and posting an extract:


A Fanfare for the Makers, Louis MacNeice

A cloud of witnesses. To whom? To what?
To the small fire that never leaves the sky.
To the great fire that boils the daily pot.

To all the things we are not remembered by,
Which we remember and bless. To all the things
That will not notice when we die,

Yet lend the passing moment words and wings.

*


So fanfare for the Makers: who compose
A book of words or deeds who runs may write
As many who do run, as a family grows

At times like sunflowers turning towards the light,
As sometimes in the blackout and the raids
One joke composed an island in the night,

As sometimes one man’s kindness pervades
A room or house or village, as sometimes
Merely to tighten screws or sharpen blades

Can catch a meaning, as to hear the chimes
At midnight means to share them, as one man
In old age plants an avenue of limes

And before they bloom can smell them, before they span
The road can walk beneath the perfected arch,
The merest greenprint when the lives began

Of those who walk there with him, as in default
Of coffee men grind acorns, as in despite
Of all assaults conscripts counter assault,

As mothers sit up late night after night
Moulding a life, as miners day by day
Descend blind shafts, as a boy may flaunt his kite

In an empty nonchalant sky, as anglers play
Their fish, as workers work and can take pride
In spending sweat before they draw their pay,

As horsemen fashion horses while they ride,
As climbers climb a peak because it is there,
As life can be confirmed even in suicide:

To make is such. Let us make. And set the weather fair.


This is from Autumn Sequel canto vii. The * marks almost 100 lines not included by Helen Gardner in The New Oxford Book of English Verse -- what's elided is important for the larger poem but weakens a detached extract.

---L.

Originally posted at http://larryhammer.dreamwidth.org/645415.html (where it has comment count unavailable comments). You can comment here or there.

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Comments

( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
puddleshark
Jul. 31st, 2017 04:53 pm (UTC)
Lovely. Thank you!

I forget how good MacNeice can be, until I stumble across a piece of his work.
lnhammer
Aug. 1st, 2017 04:48 am (UTC)
He really is the under appreciated member of McSpaunday. His collected poems is worth the investment.
sartorias
Jul. 31st, 2017 04:59 pm (UTC)
This, I just discovered, is especially effective when read while listening to In Windsor Forest by RVW
lnhammer
Aug. 1st, 2017 04:50 am (UTC)
I can imagine! I must try that.
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )