I wanted to write this out as I was having trouble finding this particular except of MacNeice’s “Autumn Journal”. As a poem in itself, this excerpt is one of my all-time favourite pieces of literature – it’s just the most romantic, beautiful, human expression of love I’ve ever read.
“September has come and I wake
and I think with joy how whatever, now or in the future, the system
nothing whatever can take
the people away, ther will always be people
for friends or lovers though perhaps
the condistions of love will be changed and its vices diminished
and affection not lapse
to narrow possessiveness, jealousy founded on vanity.
Septamber has come, it is hers,
whose vitality leaps in the autumn,
whose nature prefers
trees without leave and a fire in the fire place;
So I give her this month and the next
though the whole of my year should be hers who has rendered already
so many of its days intolerable or perplexed
but so many more so happy;
who has left a scent on mky life and left my walls
dancing over and over with her shadow,
whose hair is twined in all my waterfalls
and all of London littered with remembered kisses.
So I am glad
that life contains her with her moods and moments
more shifting and more transient than I had
yet thought of as being integral to beauty;
whose mind is like the wind on a sea of wheat,
whose eyes are candour,
and assurance in her feet,
like a homing pigeon never by doubt diverted.
To whom I send my thanks
that the air has become shot silk, the streets are music,
and that the ranks of men are ranks of men, no more of cyphers.
So that if now alone I must pursue this life, it will not be a drag
from numbered stone to numbered stone
but a ladder of angels, river turning tidal.
Off-hand, at times hysterical, abrupt,
you are one I always shall remember,
whom cant can never corrupt
nor argument disinherit
Frivolous, always in a hurry, forgetting the address,
frowning too often, taking enormous notice
of hats and back-chat – how could I assert
the things that make you different?
You whom I remember glad or tired,
smiling in drink or scintillating anger,
on boats, on trains, on roads when walking.
Sometimes untidy, often elegant,
so easily hurt, so readily responsive,
to whom a trifle could be an irritant
or could be balm or manna.
Whose words would tumble over each other and pelt
from pure excitement,
whose fingers curl and melt
when you were friendly.
I shall remember you in bed with bright
eyes or in a cafe stirring coffee
abstractedly and on your plate the white
smoking stubs your lips had touched with crimson.
And I shall remember how your words could hurt
because they were so honest
and even your lies were able to attest
integrity of purpose.
And it is on the strength of knowing you
I reckon generous feeling more important
than mere deliberating what to do
when neither the pros nor cons affect the pulses.
And though I have suffered from your special strength
who never flatter for points nor fake responses
I should be proud if I could evolve at length
an equal thrust and pattern.”