“Some now are happy in the hive of the home / Thigh over thigh and a light in the night nursery, / And some are hungry under the starry dome / And some sit turning handles” – Autumn Journal
Louis MacNeice’s Autumn Journal is a long poem in twenty four sections. It was written between August and December 1938. It is set in various locations including London, Dublin, Munich and Madrid. MacNeice vividly evokes the atmosphere that Europe was immersed in during the years preceding the second World War. He does so candidly, through an exploration of his thoughts and emotions in what he was writing at the time.
There is a note included before the beginning of the poem. In it, MacNeice explains that he has not altered the work in light of the events that followed it. He has strived to remain honest with regard to his perceptions at the time. Aside from the beautifully wrought descriptions and historically pertinent content, this is what makes the poem a tour de force. MacNeice has strived to stay true to what he was experiencing.
I read Autumn Journal while a mini heatwave bathed Dublin in idyllic sunlight. I also finally made it to Bunsen which has crazy queues outside it 90% of the time. Understandably. I ate probably the best burger of my life in there. Every item was selected and cooked to perfection. The menu is minimal. There can be no nonsense where meat and bread are concerned.