Louis MacNeice

Cover designed for
Wake Forest University Press
by Nathan W. Moehlmann, Goosepen Studio & Press

Paper: $23.95 | 96 pages | 9" by 10.5 " | ISBN 978-0-930630-63-5 | Summer 2013

From Peter McDonald’s preface to this U.S. edition of Louis MacNeice’s Collected Poems: “It is no longer necessary — and not before time — to ‘make a case’ for MacNeice as a poet. He had a couple of decades of fame, and more of comparative neglect, but his contemporaries read him poorly on the whole, even when they were most appreciative: as a ‘30s poet’ or ‘journalist’, as the author of a few near-perfect lyrics, and even as a ‘professional lachrymose Irishman’. Fortunately, errors of this order no longer need detailed correction. More to the point, it is the generations of poets, in Ireland as well as Britain, who have learned so much from MacNeice — formally, as well as in other ways — who provide the most potent argument for his poetry’s continuing life. Two Irish poets in particular — Derek Mahon and Paul Muldoon — would be unrecognisable without MacNeice’s example and influence; and others, from later Irish generations still, are continuing to discover and make creative use of resources in the poems of this writer who died before they were born. British poetry, too, enjoys strong returns from MacNeice, at least as much it does from Auden (arguably, indeed, to a greater extent). The great generation of American poets and critics who came to maturity in the 1940s and 1950s were perhaps the last to face largely the same aesthetic problems and inspirations as their British and Irish contemporaries. When MacNeice (who, if things had turned out differently in his love-life, might well have chosen to live in the USA from 1940 onwards) had his Poems 1925–1940 published by Random House, he was the subject of widespread attention — mostly admiring and intelligent. For major poets, like Robert Lowell and John Berryman, he continued to be a figure to reckon with.”

Available through Wake Forest University Press.