The greatest poems by Louis MacNeice
The Irish poet Louis MacNeice (1907-63) is often associated with the Thirties Poets, along with W. H. Auden and Stephen Spender. Yet unlike Auden, who left us ‘Stop All the Clocks’, MacNeice can be more difficult to pin down to one or two ‘best poems’ or ‘best-known poems’. ‘Prayer Before Birth’? Perhaps. That classic poem, and nine others, are included below in our pick of Louis MacNeice’s finest poems.
‘Meeting Point’. Although it’s been criticised as an unsuccessful poem, ‘Meeting Point’ is an ambitious and, to our mind, very interesting attempt to capture the experience of being with somebody you love and feeling yourselves to be outside of space and time.
‘Snow’. One of Louis MacNeice’s most popular and best-known poems, ‘Snow’ is a description of the snow falling outside the window. The poem is worth reading for the astonishing language-use in the fourth line alone: ‘World is suddener than we fancy it.’ Read the rest of this entry
Five of Coleridge’s finest poems
Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772-1834) was one of the leading English Romantic poets, whose Lyrical Ballads, the 1798 collection Coleridge co-authored with Wordsworth, became a founding-text for English Romanticism. In this post, we’ve picked five of Coleridge’s best poems, and endeavoured to explain why these might be viewed as his finest poems.
The Rime of the Ancient Mariner. Written in 1797-8, this is Coleridge’s most famous poem – it first appeared in Lyrical Ballads. The idea of killing an albatross bringing bad luck upon the crew of a ship appears to have been invented in this poem, as there is no precedent for it – and the albatross idea was probably William Wordsworth’s, not Coleridge’s (Wordsworth got the idea of the albatross-killing from a 1726 book, A Voyage Round The World by Way of the Great South Sea, by Captain George Shelvocke). Read the rest of this entry
The best night poems in English
What are the best poems about the night in all of English literature? Below we offer ten suggestions for classic night poems from the last few centuries of English verse.
Robert Herrick, ‘The Night Piece: To Julia’. Glow-worms, shooting stars, and elves: it’s all in this charming poem (and that’s just the first three lines). The last line invites a sexual reading, another sign of the eroticism that pervades the Julia poems. (Though here we might add foot-fetishism as well.) From one of the seventeenth century’s finest English poets.
Edward Young, from Night Thoughts. A hugely popular poem in its day, The Complaint: or, Night-Thoughts on Life, Death, & Immortality (to give it its full title) by Edward Young (1683-1765) is a long blank-verse meditation on death, set over the course of nine sections or ‘nights’. The poem may well have originated the phrase ‘procrastination is the thief of time’, which appears in it. Read the rest of this entry