Friday, March 23, 2012

470. The Master

Last in, first out
Is what they used say
In the factories: the layoffs
Sensed before they happened.

And in Belfast, at H & W
Where they built the Titanic,
The Taigs would go first.
The natural order.

I think more and more
Of Louis MacNeice.
Of all the poets in the world,
He is the closest to my soul.

Protean, entirely unimpressed,
Shouldering the black guilt of Ulster
And simultaneously shrugging it off,
Every poem a new beginning.

Auden felt awe as his powers failed.
Spender more or less had given up.
Only Dylan Thomas ploughed on,
Sound-intoxicated, incomprehensible.

Larkin, I think, had little to say.
Heaney, Longley and Paul Muldoon
Owe Northern debts of gratitude,
As so, in my Southern way, do I.

A sample of MacNeice: