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By Louis MacNeice

Time was away and somewhere else,

There were two glasses and two chairs

And two people with the one pulse

(Somebody stopped the moving stairs):

Time was away and somewhere else.


And they were neither up nor down;

The stream’s music did not stop

Flowing through heather, limpid brown,

Although they sat in a coffee shop

And they were neither up nor down.


The bell was silent in the air

Holding its inverted poise—

Between the clang and clang a flower,

A brazen calyx of no noise:

The bell was silent in the air.


The camels crossed the miles of sand

That stretched around the cups and plates;

The desert was their own, they planned

To portion out the stars and dates:

The camels crossed the miles of sand.


Time was away and somewhere else.

The waiter did not come, the clock

Forgot them and the radio waltz

Came out like water from a rock:

Time was away and somewhere else.


Her fingers flicked away the ash

That bloomed again in tropic trees:

Not caring if the markets crash

When they had forests such as these,

Her fingers flicked away the ash.


God or whatever means the Good

Be praised that time can stop like this,

That what the heart has understood

Can verify in the body’s peace

God or whatever means the Good.


Time was away and she was here

And life no longer what it was,

The bell was silent in the air

And all the room one glow because

Time was away and she was here.

 


Louis MacNeice, “Meeting Point” from The Collected Poems of Louis MacNeice.  Copyright © 1967 by Louis MacNeice.  Reprinted by permission of David Higham Associates, Ltd.
 

Source: The Collected Poems of Louis MacNeice (Oxford University Press, 1967)

  • Living

Poet Bio

Louis MacNeice
Overshadowed during his lifetime by the virtuoso achievements of his close friend W.H. Auden, Louis MacNeice has recently begun to receive the attention he deserves for his command of poetic craft and clear-headed depictions of a murky world. Born in Belfast, Ireland and educated at Oxford, MacNeice came of age with his 1939 volume Autumn Journal. For many years a radio dramatist and producer for the BBC, he was also a distinguished translator of Greek and German literary classics.

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