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LMNAt times, poetry just happens.

It arrives at the right moment – whether it is when you need it, or in a way that just won’t be forgotten. If I didn’t know better, I’d be tempted tempted to think that poetry, as reading material, works under its own brand of (higly theatrical) serendipity.

Louis MacNeice happened to me one rainy evening, a few years ago, in the form of The Sunlight on the Garden – that was written in 1938, when war was looming, and all was about to change forever:

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.

Oh, the sheer feel of autumn coming, of loss, of irretrievability… I cannot read this poem without feeling the chill of that hardening sunlight.

Later I discovered that MacNeice had also been a playwright, translator and radio-drama author, and I went on to read more of his work. And yet, to me he will always  be the poet of sunlight hardening on the brink of darkness, who happened to me on that one rainy night, a few years ago.

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