Wednesday, 11 November 2009


I have neglected of late to bring you gems from the window-sill of my front porch, so to rectify this oversight I have plucked a tattered yellow copy of The Penguin Poets Contemporary Verse edited by Kenneth Allott. This volume first saw the light of day in 1950 and the price of two shillings and sixpence marked on the front cover is a bit of a giveaway. I picked it up in a second hand bookshop along the way being a firm believer that a well thumbed yellow-edged book of poetry holds a special atmosphere that allows the works within to live and breathe. It’s a good feeling to thumb through an old edition where eyes and thumbs have strayed before, there’s a distinct feeling that you are not travelling alone. The poem I’ve selected from this book is one by Irish poet Louis Macneice (left} which though seasonally a little premature, is a work rich in atmosphere and mystery. In his introduction Allott says of Macneice’s writing, “ his best work was unequalled in the Thirties for its gaiety, grace and a lightness which was never silly or ostrich-like.”
Gerard O'Shea
The room was suddenly rich and the great bay-window was
Spawning snow and pink roses against it
Soundlessly collateral and incompatible:
World is suddener than we fancy it.
World is crazier and more of it than we think,
Incorrigibly plural. I peel and portion
A tangerine and spit the pips and feel
The drunkenness of things being various.
And the fire flames with a bubbling sound for world
Is more spiteful and gay than one supposes -
On the tongue on the eyes on the ears in the palms of one's hands -

There is more than glass between the snow and the huge roses.
Louis Macneice