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Autumn Journal

4.32  ·  Rating details ·  273 ratings  ·  38 reviews
Written between August and December 1938, this is a record of the author's emotional and intellectual experience during those months; the trivia of everyday life set against the events of the world outside, the settlement in Munich and slow defeat in Spain. Originally published in 1996.
Paperback, 96 pages
Published 1998 by Faber & Faber
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Average rating 4.32  · 
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 ·  273 ratings  ·  38 reviews


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Bettie
Dec 22, 2016 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: BBC Radio Listeners
Recommended to Bettie by: Laura


“September has come, it is hers
Whose vitality leaps in the autumn,
Whose nature prefers
Trees without leaves and a fire in the fireplace.
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 my 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.”




...more
Laura
Dec 22, 2016 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Bettie, Wanda
From BBC Radio 3 - Drama on 3:
Colin Morgan reads Louis MacNeice's poetic testament of life in 1938, written against the turbulent backdrop of the Munich Agreement, the fall of Barcelona and Britain's preparations for an inevitable war. Introduced by poet Colette Bryce and interwoven with archive news reports from the era.

Part of Radio 3's 70th season, marking the anniversary of the creation of the Third Programme, Radio 3's predecessor in 1946, where MacNeice worked as a producer and writer.

...more
Kandice
Mar 10, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Deceptively simple poetry that intertwines personal upheaval with the political instability of Europe in 1938. Certain passages haunted me for days after I finished it.

Read it if you love poetry. Read it if you think you hate poetry.
Alice Lippart
Really liked the themes of autumn and war. A good and interesting collection, but doesn't quite make it into my heart.
Courtney Johnston
Apr 02, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry, history, borrowed
Louis MacNeice's 'Autumn Journal' made me ask a question I've not really asked before - why write a poem?

I mean, I've read plenty of interviews where writers who write both fiction and poetry say that some ideas are better expressed, better fitted, for one form than the other. And beyond that, I guess writers are a little like runners - congenitally better suited to the sprint or the marathon.

MacNeice's long poem - 86 pages in the Faber and Faber edition I borrowed - records the months between
...more
Rebecca
MacNeice, a poet and man of letters from Northern Ireland, wrote this long verse narrative between August 1938 and the turn of the following year. It’s simultaneously about everything and nothing, about everyday life for the common worker and the political rumblings that suggest all is not right in the world. As summer fades and Christmas draws closer, he reflects on his disconnection from Ireland; and on fear, apathy and the longing for purpose.

Two in every four lines rhyme, but the rhyme
...more
Liam Guilar
Mar 29, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
(The selection of quotes goodreads offers from this book is weird.)
And there should be some way of explaining why reading this in a stand alone edition is so much easier and more enjoyable than reading it in the collected.

Described as representing the Thirties in the way the 'The Wasteland' did the Twenties and like a lot of poems from that decade oddly caught in its own stylistic time bubble in a way the Waste Land never was.

One man's description of part of what what another Irish poet called
...more
Elisa
Jan 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audiobooks, 2017, poetry
I don't normally read poetry but today a friend told me Colin Morgan's reading of this poem was available on the iPlayer so I gave this a go. And I liked it so much I went and bought the ebook off Amazon to be able to read along as Morgan read to be able to appreciate the poetry better. I liked the intimate tone of the verses (it's a diary, duh), the crucial historical moment it was set in (and was a bit unnerved by how relevant most of the political/social commentary still is), the everyday ...more
Colin
Nov 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Autumn Journal is something I've been meaning to read at this time of the year for absolutely ages. Its appearance on an excellent recent edition of the Backlisted podcast gave me the impetus to get on with it. A long poem of twenty four cantos, it vividly captures the last autumn of peace before the outbreak of the Second World War. It is a mixture of the personal and the public, as MacNeice evokes a lost relationship in a world that is slowly sliding into war. Hypnotic rhythm and rhyme take ...more
Chris
Jan 19, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
I'm haunted by this work since it turned me on to a kind of journalistic way of writing poetry as an adolescent. The atmosphere of the impending war, being in love on the streets of London, musings on Spanish civil war and ancient Greek hedonists, the courage of ordinary people going to work every day "to build the falling castle". Also those beautiful long lines with their sly rhymes and cunning rhythms. I recently came across a tatty first edition without cover in a charity bookshop. It had ...more
David Campton
Sep 07, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
MacNeice is often sneered at as a lesser member of the Auden/Day Lewis coterie, and unfavourably compared with other "Irish" poets, but I have a genuine love of this window into his private thoughts in response to the great events of 1938-9 and reflections on things "back home" in Ulster over the "marching season" of that year. There remains a relevance to it 50 years after his death and 75 years after he wrote it... sadly...
Laura
Mar 13, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: uni
didn’t completely understand what was happening
Vishvapani
Dec 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
We aren't in 1938, but there's something familiar in the sense MacNeice eloquently expresses of being in a bad time and watching vast forces push the world in a bad direction while one feels one's own confusion and impotence and watches, bemused, the responses of others.
The poem I'd put alongside it is Auden's New Year Letter, which was written in a similar style at precisely the same time and also combines autobiography, political observation and phiosophical reflection.
Having had only a
...more
Jocelin
Dec 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Autumn Journal is perhaps the most self-aware modernist text that I have read. Written in the final quarter of a year before the calamitous 1939, MacNeice dryly and pertinently observes a world teetering on the edge of - well, something. Although he hovers in the modern world with a sort of conscious brutality, he often drops away back into the classical past, as though losing his footing in the present. He meanders through the drop into winter through various voices, and employs the most ...more
Carlton
Mar 19, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
So immediate, so that it almost reads as stream of consciousness poetry:
Close and slow, summer is ending in Hampshire,
Ebbing away down ramps of shaven lawn where close-clipped yew
Insulates the lives of retired generals and admirals
And the spyglasses hung in the hall and the prayer-books ready in the pew
And August going out to the tin trumpets of nasturtiums
And the sunflowers’ Salvation Army blare of brass And the spinster sitting in a deck-chair picking up stitches
Not raising her eyes to
...more
Emma
Jan 17, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A wonderful snapshot from a country on the brink of war, the mundane and the global all accounted for and so many gorgeous lines;

" And we had our little tiptoe minds"

" Send her no more fantasy, no more longings which
are under fatal tarrif.
For common sense is the vogue
And she gives her children neither sense nor money
Who slouch around the world with a gesture and a brogue"

" You were my blizzard who had been my bed"

"A fire should be left burning
Till it burns itself out:
We shan't have another
...more
Leila
Apr 25, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
found this in the library while looking for something to read for my mods 1 exam. disappointed that it wasn't even mentioned on my course, as it is probably the only modernist poetry i've liked thus far. an autobiographical poem about the 1938-9 years, the approach of war, the moral dilemma, the civilian war effort and irish nationalism, as well as the hedonism of the 1930s and the poet's own life and love.
Sara
Oct 25, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2016, audiobook
I needed to listen to this strange and sad journalistic poetry. Like it was great timing, seasonally, but also because so much of late 30s Europe feels relateable to current events ("current events!!" mr rhodes cackles as he rubs his hands together). I also just like the idea of a poetic diary.
Simon Barraclough
Sep 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
One of the very few books I've started to read again as soon as I've finished: the others being Ulysses, Dombey and Son, and Heart of Darkness.
Cecly Ann
Sep 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I don't normally enjoy poetry, bur MacNiece is brilliant. I have to thank Rosamunde Pilcher for introducing me to this poet.
Tanya Petrova
Mar 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Astonishingly evocative of the times we live in, indescribably beautiful, compassionate and kind. A must-read for any socially conscious and self-aware person out there. Stellar!
Freddie Trevaskis Hoskin
Aug 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
A wonderful incisive epic, a potently relevant political treaties, a manifesto on not knowing how to live and an eradicator of loneliness. At times a tad prosaic.
Richard Smith
Nov 13, 2016 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this greatly. There's something satisfying about a long poem, especially as one as lyrical, illuminating, and easy to read as this one. I'm almost tempted to start again immediately.
Nathan Leahy
Oct 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Masterpiece. I read it every October. Seems especially relevant this year.
Karen
Feb 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
I read this book because of The Shell Seekers. I found it on YouTube, read by Colin Morgan in three parts with sound effects. And followed along with my copy and it was really good.
John Burns
Oct 16, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry
I tend to like poems that are only a few stanzas long and that tell me something in a concise and focussed kind of way. It seems to be the case that poets pick up this style in their later years and in their younger years (this would include their 40s) they tend to be more sprawling, more inspired, more energised. Somehow the loss of energy that spoils songwriters and saps their later work of all its vitality seems to benefit poets, seems to make them more appreciative of what they can perceive ...more
alexandra pintea
Sep 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Jurnal de toamna cu (printre multe, multe altele) crizanteme, dalii si foc (in camin):

'In this room chrysanthemums and dahlias
Like brandy hit the heart; the fire,
A small wild animal, furthers its desire
Consuming fuel, self-consuming.
And flames are the clearest cut
Of shapes and the most transient:
O fire, my spendthrift,
May I spend like you, as reckless but
Giving as good return - burn the silent
Into running sound, deride the dark
And jump to glory from a single spark
And purge the world and warm
...more
Ken French
Oct 05, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Long form poem about lost time, lost love, and the onset of war. Excellent.
Tony
Dec 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
This is a beautiful book. I was aware of it but I haven't read any Louis MacNeice at all, even though I've had a copy of his Collected Poems gathering dust on my shelf for a while. But then Backlisted podcast did an episode on it and that forced the issue.

It's a poetic dip into the time of the Munich Conference. War is in the air. But MacNeice manages to make it the political intimate and the intimate political. It makes you aware of how different poetry is to prose.

I'll be re-reading this I
...more
Amy Lutes
Aug 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My first "read-through" was actually a "listen-through" to the BBC3 radio production of "Autumn Journal" as read by Colin Morgan. I found it to be beautiful and poignant, and I currently have the print book on order so that I can spend some more time with the words.

MacNeice can turn a phrase in a way that I haven't heard in a while, reminding me of some of the nature and observational poetry of the British Romantics (Wordsworth, Coleridge) and American Transcendentalists (Walt Whitman, Ralph
...more
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Born to Irish parents in Belfast, MacNeice was largely educated in British prep schools. He attended Oxford University, there befriending W.H. Auden.

He was part of the generation of "thirties poets" which included W. H. Auden, Stephen Spender and Cecil Day-Lewis; nicknamed "MacSpaunday" as a group — a name invented by Roy Campbell, in his Talking Bronco (1946). His body of work was widely
...more
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“September has come, it is hers
Whose vitality leaps in the autumn,
Whose nature prefers
Trees without leaves and a fire in the fireplace.
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 my 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.”
46 likes
“None of our hearts are pure, we always have mixed motives.
Are self deceivers, but the worst of all
Deceits is to murmur 'Lord, I am not worthy'
And, lying easy, turn your face to the wall. ”
12 likes
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