Louis MacNeice: Snow

This is another poem featured in the BBC Poetry season. As well as being selected by Owen Shears for his Poet’s Guide to Britain, it also featured in Cerys Matthews’ My Life in Verse where it was introduced by Belfast novelist Glen Patterson as a poem that meant much to him as a resident of Belfast where too often you are ‘reduced to one identity or another’. For him the idea of  ‘World is crazier and more of it than we think, Incorrigibly plural…the drunkenness of things being various’ is fantastic.Patterson was just seventeen when he first heard the poem Snow. He said it was like a light coming on, and that ‘If this is what writing could do, I wanted to be a writer.’

The room was suddenly rich and the great bay-window was
Spawning snow and pink roses against it
Soundlessly collateral and incompatible:
World is suddener than we fancy it.
World is crazier and more of it than we think,
Incorrigibly plural. I peel and portion
A tangerine and spit the pips and feel
The drunkenness of things being various.
And the fire flames with a bubbling sound for world
Is more spiteful and gay than one supposes –
On the tongue on the eyes on the ears in the palms of one’s hands –
There is more than glass between the snow and the huge roses.

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