Subscribe: by Email | in Reader

Meeting Point -- Louis MacNeice

       
(Poem #1301) Meeting Point
 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
MacNeice in this poem tries to capture the suspension of time that seems
to occur when one is in the company of a loved one. Three images in
particular stand out for me: the stalled escalator (escalators being the
embodiment of perpetual motion -- the infinite loop, as it were), the
inverted bell (pendulums at their extrema always seem to slow down more
than they should) and the empty desert (the high desert, like the
Siberian tundra and the antarctic plateau, has a profoundly hypnotic
_sameness_ to it).

Sadly, the rest of the poem (beguiling rhyme scheme apart) doesn't quite
do the trick. I found the sixth stanza somewhat pointless, and the
scansion of the second stanza is decidedly uneven. (That said, I'm not
sure if more exact prosody would have helped the poem or reduced it to
sing-song triteness). And finally, the ambiguity that gives poems like
"The Sunlight on the Garden" or "House on a Cliff" or "Snow" their
power, here seems to betoken a lack of confidence, a thinning of the
blood.

Methinks I cavil too much. All criticism aside, this remains a very
accomplished poem, if not MacNeice's finest. I really must read more of
his work.

thomas.

88 comments: ( or Leave a comment )

Ian Baillieu said...

When does a poem know it’s finished? Paul Valery said “A
poem is never finished, only abandoned”. It appears to me
that Louis MacNeice, having hit on a striking format and
assembled some great images in ‘Meeting Point’, abandoned it
too soon.

The problem is not one of inexact prosody. The metric
irregularities are minor and easily absorbed in skilled
recitation, which uses subtle changes of rhythm and syllabic
weight to make a poem more meaningful aloud than on the
printed page, the only justification for recitation. Too
sing-song a scansion can frustrate that.

IMO the main problem with ‘Meeting Point’ is the use of the
third person viewpoint when the theme is the profoundly
subjective one of time suspended in the presence of a lover.
That detachment seriously thins this poem’s emotional blood.

Suppose that MacNeice, before abandoning it, had revised it
thus. In the 2nd stanza, change ‘they’ to ‘we’ (thrice).
In the 4th stanza, change ‘the cups’ to ‘our cups’. In the
5th stanza, change ‘them’ to ‘us’. In the 6th stanza,
change ‘Her’ to ‘Your’ (twice). In the last stanza, change
‘she was’ to ‘you were’ (twice). The general structure and
appearance would have been identical, but would not the poem
have had more power and been more involving?

I agree the sixth stanza could be discarded without much
loss. It has become dated. The image of crashing markets
as the symbol of troubles put out of mind was probably
always too contemporary to endure. Yet MacNeice could
hardly have foreseen the stigma now attaching to tobacco
smoke. In his day it was thought stylish. The curlicues
from a lighted cigarette could be seen romantically as
imitating the shapes of ‘tropic trees’.

His lovers are in a coffee shop by a stream, so the exotic
image of camels crossing a desert may need to be explained
as something depicted on the walls, or on the table linen.
It is harder to understand how a swinging bell can also
feature. Was there a belfry visible nearby? I don’t rate
these puzzles as faults however. A poem, like a woman, can
attract by being a little mysterious.

It is interesting to compare ‘Meeting Point’ with another
poem tackling a similar theme and setting but in a very
different style: ‘On The Road’, by MacNeice’s friend and
schoolfellow, Bernard Spencer (1909-1963), whose collected
poems OUP published in 1981. I think Spencer’s free verse
poem of only 19 lines succeeds where MacNeice’s fails. His
lovers, referred to as ‘We two’ are in ‘harvest France’
drinking in an ‘arbour’

…built on a valley side where time,
if time any more existed, was that river
of so profound a current, it at once
both flowed and stayed.

I won’t quote all of it here because it is too beautiful to
be relegated to quotation in a comment on someone else’s
poem. It deserves Minstrels selection in its own right.

Steve Campbell said...

> Whereas Crane's originality is almost obtrusive, Hein delights in
> pointing out things that everyone *knows*, but just never thought of.
> His characterisation of a pineapple as "sweet and undefinable" remains
> the best description I've ever seen of the fruit, and that's in large
> part because I knew exactly what he meant the minute I read it.

It was actually:

Love is like
a pineapple,
sweet and
undefinable.

which is a bit diferent.

Steve

KOFMAN GALINA (SBCSI) said...

I am not an expert in English poetry, and English is my second language. I
do like poetry a lot - Russian and English. This is one of my favorite
poems, in terms of emotional impact. I wonder if there are other people who
feel this way. If you one of them, l would like to know what other poems
make you feel the same way.

Galina Kofman

Wad2314 said...

i feel exactly the same way, another poem that gives me similar feelings is
"To His Coy Mistress" by Andrew Marvell, the feeling of time in both poems is
very strong. although it is courtly poetry i feel the tone can at times be
similar to "Meeting Point", however, passing time in "To His Coy Mistress" is
more like an enemy as the speaker feels it is being wasted.

Pleas write back with your thoughts.

Polly said...

I was interested in a comment on here about changing the language to 'our'
and 'we' rather than 'their' and 'they'. I think you may be right in terms
of making the poem more involved and immediate however I personally prefer
the original form.

This poem is one of my favourites and it makes me think of my own past
relationship. The couple in my mind therefore are not together in the
present but frozen in a memory and time cannot affect them. The use of third
person works very well in this respect as I am observing two people which no
longet exist as they once did.

Anonymous said...

Just post the poems thomas, save us from your anal retentive criticism.

Anonymous said...

btw, the sixth stanza, is probably the most beautiful one in the poem, she flicks away the ash, in a nonchalant way, the ash that is part of life again in tropic trees and blooms, and because he's so in love with her, a mere gesture (repeated, trivial) like this transports him to this eternity of energy and matter. They don't care if the markets crash, man made, temporary, because forests will grow and she's there for him. I ruined it with my commentary, but this is one of the most beautiful verses.

Anonymous said...

I had to do a moc exam comparing "Meeting Point" with Shakespeare's X|X for English literature A2.
I think the Camel's crossing the desert are in fact that pattern actually on the cups and plates and so their journey is perhaps never ending, rather like the journey of love.
At first I thought the poem perhaps was ambiguous,but after reading it a second time I think it's a lot to do with heightened senses, noticing your surroundings, and how when In a lovers company nothing else matters - small things go unnoticed because time is still.
I like the line "two people with one pulse" which really outlines how he feels they are soul mates.
All the references to nature perhaps highlight how love itself is a natural thing...
However this poem is open to interpretation of the individual, those however were my thoughts.

Anonymous said...

This is someone in love -the analytical critiques of metre and the seeking of specific meaning in each reference by some commentators seem to betoken a lack of real appreciation of what a poem can mean or create in its entirety-there is a certain mystery involved,unless you want to sit in the restaurant with the poet and his ,I think, illicit lover and see every reference visually manifest in the decor or the view from the window beside them. The magic of her presence is creating in the poet's mind the idea of camels and deserts on the table between them:the glow in the room is not the result of the lighting,time is away(which it can never be, RIP Louis)because love can seem to stop its unstoppable march, even in a Lyons' Tea House.

Anonymous said...

Anybody who has been deeply in love will recognise this poem. I've been in that coffee shop and it was wonderful.

Harga Jual Blackberry iPhone Laptop Murah said...

Harga Jual Blackberry iPhone Laptop Murah - Anybody who has been deeply in love will recognise this poem. I've been in that coffee shop and it was wonderful.

By: Harga Jual Blackberry iPhone Laptop Murah

Invertir en oro said...

Thanks for taking the time to discuss this, I feel strongly about information and love learning more on this.

Inversiones en petroleo said...

Good morning, I like to find information to help me grow as a person, thanks for sharing this valuable information, good job

Ideas de negocios said...

Thanks for taking the time to discuss this, but I am firmly convinced of this and love to learn more about the subject. If possible, acquire knowledge, would you update your blog with more information? It is very helpful to me

Anonymous said...

am currently doing an assignment on this poem...and was good learning different perspectives from various people..
thanks guys!!!
i personally love this poem too

Space Matters Real Estates said...

Hello There. I found your blog using msn. This is a really well written article. I’ll be sure to bookmark it and return to read more of your useful information. Thanks for the post. I will definitely return. Plots for sale in Hyderabad
Plots for sale in Banjara Hills
Plots for sale in Jubilee Hills
Plots for sale in Manikonda
Plots for sale in Madhapur
Plots for sale in kondapur
Plots for sale in Gachibowli
Plots for sale in Kukatpally

Anonymous said...

Currently preparing to teach this poem with a class of special needs students. They will love the quirky imagery and the way he uses time in a different way than Marvell, with whom they have just been doing battle. It's such a beautiful poem and captures exactly how it feels when the rest of the world just falls away because you are with the one you love. thanks for all your insights =)

Anonymous said...

Great post.

my web page ... Abercrombie Bruxelles

Anonymous said...

What a data of un-ambiguity and preserveness of precious know-how regarding unexpected emotions.


Look at my homepage ... wealthwayonline.com

Anonymous said...

Greetings from Colorado! I'm bored at work so I decided to browse your site on my iphone during lunch break. I enjoy the knowledge you provide here and can't wait to take a
look when I get home. I'm amazed at how quick your blog loaded on my mobile .. I'm not even using WIFI, just 3G .
. Anyways, excellent site!

Look at my homepage San Juan Capistrano restaurants

Anonymous said...

If some one wants to be updated with hottest technologies then he must be visit this site and be up to date every day.


Here is my blog post ... Federal credit

Anonymous said...

Hi there to every body, it's my first visit of this blog; this weblog carries remarkable and really good material in support of visitors.

My homepage - Read More Here

Anonymous said...

Have you ever thought about adding a little bit more than just your
articles? I mean, what you say is valuable and all. Nevertheless
imagine if you added some great images or videos to give your posts more, "pop"!
Your content is excellent but with images and video clips,
this blog could undeniably be one of the greatest
in its niche. Terrific blog!

Have a look at my homepage - Sidney Crosby Authentic Jersey

Anonymous said...

Your style is unique compared to other folks I've read stuff from. I appreciate you for posting when you've got the opportunity, Guess I'll just bookmark this blog.

Also visit my blog post ... Chaussures De Football

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure exactly why but this weblog is loading very slow for me. Is anyone else having this issue or is it a issue on my end? I'll check back later and see if the problem still exists.


My webpage: Jordan Femme

Anonymous said...

I like the valuable information you supply to your articles.
I will bookmark your blog and take a look at again
here frequently. I'm rather sure I will learn plenty of new stuff proper right here! Good luck for the following!

Have a look at my page; Sac A Main Louis Vuitton

Anonymous said...

When I originally commented I clicked the "Notify me when new comments are added" checkbox
and now each time a comment is added I get four emails with the same comment.
Is there any way you can remove people from that service?

Thank you!

Feel free to surf to my blog :: Discover More Here

Anonymous said...

Amazing! Its actually awesome article, I have got much clear idea regarding from this paragraph.


My weblog; web site

Anonymous said...

My coder is trying to persuade me to move to .net from PHP.
I have always disliked the idea because of the expenses. But he's tryiong none the less. I've been using Movable-type
on a variety of websites for about a year and am worried about switching to another platform.
I have heard very good things about blogengine.
net. Is there a way I can transfer all my wordpress content into it?
Any help would be really appreciated!

Review my blog post :: More Help

Anonymous said...

It is appropriate time to make a few plans for the future and it
is time to be happy. I've read this post and if I may I want to suggest you few fascinating issues or suggestions. Maybe you could write next articles relating to this article. I want to learn more things approximately it!

my site ... Home Page :: istoriya.sumy.ua ::

Anonymous said...

Paragraph writing is also a fun, if you know then you can write otherwise
it is complicated to write.

Feel free to surf to my web page Look At This

Anonymous said...

I do not even know how I ended up here, but I thought this post was good.
I don't know who you are but certainly you're going to a famous
blogger if you are not already ;) Cheers!


My website; Christian Louboutin

Anonymous said...

Very energetic post, I loved that a lot. Will there be a
part 2?

Also visit my blog post :: Cheap Jerseys

Anonymous said...

It is the best time to make some plans for the future
and it's time to be happy. I've learn this publish and if
I may I want to suggest you few attention-grabbing issues or advice.

Maybe you could write next articles relating to this article.
I want to read even more issues about it!

My web page: Borse Gucci

Anonymous said...

I like the helpful info you provide in your articles.
I'll bookmark your blog and check again here frequently. I am quite certain I will learn many new stuff right here! Best of luck for the next!

Also visit my web-site; LeBron James 10 Shoes (http://nysacpr.org/lebrojamesshoes.html)

Anonymous said...

Interesting to see everyone's comments on MacNeice's use of the impersonal, rather than "I" or "we". It's actually a feature of pretty much all of his work, and I think it, as a stylistic point, is actually quite wonderful. Both clever and somehow challenging.

I've always read the camels and deserts as being a pattern on the tea service, but also an analogy to escaping to something exotic. And I actually also like the 6th stanza; I feel MacNeice probably included it to push his socialist tendencies, and his hatred of markets and impersonal forces commanding over people. Money is pointless in the face of love.

Anonymous said...

Could the "camels" that cross the "sand" around the plates and cups be the cigarettes the two people share and light? Too obvious, a bit crude? But these are intimate, silent gestures. Smoking was popular back then because it was romantic.

William Smith said...

The article posted was very informative and useful. You people are doing a great job. Electronic Science And Technology | Home Cleaning And Decoration | Keep going.

George Morrison said...

Thanks intended for shearing such a pleasant and become valuable article. I favor it nearly all in addition to value anyone with this excellent article.
Coffee cups
Espresso coffee cups
espresso coffee
4 oz coffee cups

Michael Syaukas said...

Nice Post, Thanks for your very useful information... I will bookmark for next reference

countingducks said...

I came across this post just because I entered the lines "Time was away and somewhere else" because I probably last read this poem about thirty years ago and, to be honest, could not even remember who wrote it, but I've never forgotten that line and how it encapsulates an aspect of being together in love. If anyone gets near remembering a line I wrote so long after I wrote it, I would be a proud man indeed. In general, I think the criticism of the poem should concentrate on why it has had such impact rather than on the flaws. Nothing is perfect but tome things get nearer expressing it than others, and this poem is a prime example of that fact.

numpangpromo said...

I like this poem, thanks for posting it.
iklan gratis | pasang iklan gratis

Obat Herbal said...

Seberat apapun beban masalah yang kamu hadapi saat ini, percayalah bahwa semua itu tidak pernah melebihi batas kemampuan kamu.

Penjual Herbal said...

Sebelum membicarakan tentang Obat kutil di daerah alat vital , sebenarnya ada hal lain yang lebih penting dari hal itu, yakni tindakan pencegahan silahkan baca selengkapnya . proses pencegahan sebagai Obat alat vital sakit ini juga perlu dibantu dari orang-orang yang ahli di dalamnya sehingga pencegahan tersebut efektif dan bisa sesuai dengan sasaran, silahkan baca selengkapnya . bila kita melihat lebih jauh dan meneliti beberapa kasus yang ada Obat keluar nanah di kelamin yang paling manjur adalah pencegahan sejak dini, silahkan baca selengkapnya . Dan ternyata ada Obat herbal wasir yang secara alami masih bisa dikonsumsi, silahkan silahkan baca selengkapnya . Penyakit kanker payudara bisa isembuhkan jika ditangani sejak dini dengan Obat herbal kanker payudara . Anda harus mengetahui gejala-gejala kanker payudara agar anda dapat mengobatinya sebelum terlambat silahkan baca selengkapnya . Tapi jika anda sudah terlanjur terkena penyakit ini, maka pengobatan yang harus dilakukan dengan Obat kutil di alat vital , lebih lengkapnya silahkan baca selengkapnya .

Mdjosim Uddin said...

What a nice post. I like your post. you can visite here laptop table bangladesh

Mdjosim Uddin said...

What nice post. you can visite here online shop dhaka

Kayla Kingsbury said...

Chakra system and balancing … Leslie is a practitioner of chakra healing and balancing The art of chakra healing has been used for centuries to balance important energy centers in our body that we refer to as called chakras.
http://chakras.soulchakra.com/

Post a Comment