(Poem #757) The Sunlight on the Garden
The sunlight on the garden Hardens and grows cold, We cannot cage the minute Within its nets of gold; When all is told We cannot beg for pardon. Our freedom as free lances Advances towards its end; The earth compels, upon it Sonnets and birds descend; And soon, my friend, We shall have no time for dances. The sky was good for flying Defying the church bells And every evil iron Siren and what it tells: The earth compels, We are dying, Egypt, dying And not expecting pardon, Hardened in heart anew, But glad to have sat under Thunder and rain with you, And grateful too For sunlight on the garden.
An truly beautiful poem - the complex, intertwined images building up into an ominous picture of a world spiralling into war. The superposition of the large-scale and the highly personal is highly effective, the ending lending the rest of the poem a new and enhanced perspective. And the poem is lent an extra poignancy by the knowledge (see the first link) that it was addressed to the wife who had just left him. And speaking of complex and intertwined, don't miss the exquisitely crafted rhyme scheme, the combination of internal and end rhymes having a delight all their own. The technique of rhyming the last word of a line with the first word of the next is, incidentally, reminiscent of Joe Haldeman's "Lines Composed on a Noisy Plane to Atlantic City", in Zelazny's 'Wheel of Fortune' anthology. Zelazny refers to it as an old Welsh verse form - if anyone can shed further light on this, do write in. Notes: "We are dying, Egypt, dying": echoes Antony's word to Cleopatra in Act 4 of Antony and Cleopatra. -- [broken link] http://www.wmich.edu/english/tchg/lit/pms/MacNeice.Sunlight.html Biography: MacNeice, Louis: 1907-63, Irish poet. Educated in England, he became a classical scholar and teacher and later was a producer for the British Broadcasting Corporation. In the 1930s MacNeice allied himself with a group of poets of social protest led by W. H. Auden. His later poetry, expressing the futility of modern life, retains the sparkling wit, ironical flatness of statement, and colloquial tone of his earlier verse. His volumes of poetry include Poems,, Springboard (1945), Holes in the Sky (1948), Ten Burnt Offerings (1952), and Solstices (1961). He also rendered poetic translations of Aeschylus' Agamemnon (1936) and Goethe's Faust (1951). -- [broken link] http://www.encyclopedia.com/printable/07828.html Links: Seamus Cooney has an detailed commentary on the poem [broken link] http://www.wmich.edu/english/tchg/lit/pms/MacNeice.Sunlight.html Dickinson's 'There's a Certain Slant of Light' has reminiscent imagery poem #92 And Henley's 'The Rain and the Wind' resonates nicely with the ending poem #117 As for MacNeice, we've run two of his poems: poem #18 poem #521 -martin