Memory and Starlight in Late Macneice

Jonathan Allison

in The Oxford Handbook of Modern Irish Poetry

Published in print October 2012 | ISBN: 9780199561247
Published online January 2013 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks of Literature

Memory and Starlight in Late Macneice

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  • Literary Studies (20th Century onwards)
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In his poem ‘Star Gazer’, part of his final, posthumously published volume, The Burning Perch (1963), Louis MacNeice mentions that he had read ‘in the textbooks’ how vast the distance was between the earth and the stars. He had described the poems of The Burning Perch to Allen Tate as ‘all thumbnail nightmares’, and critics such as John Press and Peter McDonald have discussed the nightmare imagery and logic deployed in the late poems. MacNeice's poems about time depend primarily on the representation of memory in order to achieve their effects, conveying the sense of accelerated time as like a train, or fast-flowing water, or even a horse that no one can control and from which one cannot dismount. He is interested in expanding the definition of parable in various directions. In The Burning Perch, MacNeice was aiming for the narrative simplicity, compression, and intensity of parable based on his definition.

Keywords: Louis MacNeice; memory; stars; Burning Perch; Star Gazer; nightmares; poems; parable

Article.  4394 words. 

Subjects: Literature ; Literary Studies (20th Century onwards) ; Literary Studies (Poetry and Poets)

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