The glamour of the end attic, the smell
Of old leather trunks – Perdita, where have you been
Hiding all these years? Somewhere or other a green
Flag is waving under an iron vault
And a brass bell is the herald of green country
And the wind is in the wires and the broom is gold.
Perdita, what became of all the things
We said that we should do? The cobwebs cover
The labels of Tyrol. The time is over-
Due and in some metropolitan station
Among the clank of cans and the roistering files
Of steam the caterpillars wait for wings.
For me, MacNeice in many ways wears the best of the thirties poets, being closest to the common human experience. If a primary purpose of poetry is to answer the question ‘What was it like to be alive?’ his long poem ‘Autumn Journal’ does a good job for those times. But he was also, as shown here, a master of the idiosyncratic shorter lyric.