13 March 2017

larryhammer: a wisp of smoke, label: "it comes in curlicues, spirals as it twirls" (twirls)
For Poetry Monday:


August à la Poussin, Louis MacNeice

The shutter of time darkening ceaselessly
Has whisked away the foam of may and elder
And I realise how now, as every year before,
Once again the gay months have eluded me.

For the mind, by nature stagey, welds its frame
Tomb-like around each little world of a day;
We jump from picture to picture and cannot follow
The living curve that is breathlessly the same.

While the lawn-mower sings moving up and down
Spirting its little fountain of vivid green,
I, like Poussin, make a still-bound fête of us
Suspending every noise, of insect or machine.

Garlands at a set angle that do not slip,
Theatrically (and as if for ever) grace
You and me and the stone god in the garden
And Time who also is shown with a stone face.

But all this is a dilettante’s lie,
Time’s face is not stone nor still his wings;
Our mind, being dead, wishes to have time die,
For we, being ghosts, cannot catch hold of things.


Titled as first published in 1933, later called just "August" in his collected poems. Poussin is, of course, the French Baroque painter, frequently of historical subjects and landscapes. I'm not finding a painting with that title, but the details suggest the speaker is thinking of A Dance to the Music of Time (formerly known as The Dance of the Seasons). MacNeice is, of course, is the too-often overlooked friend and collaborator of Auden, who was never as radical as others of the Auden Group ("MacSpaunday") but stayed liberal to the end.

---L.

Subject quote from "Take a Picture," Filter.

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