Sunday, January 16, 2005

The Sunlight on the Garden

Sometimes a poem will catch the rough edge of a reader's heart and tear into its rawness, yet these are the very words the reader will return to again and again until they pulse naturally through the body. One poem that has become my blood and the blood of many is " The Sunlight on the Garden" by Louis MacNeice.

Much has been said about this poem's brilliant rhythm, the rhymes, the purity of its music, its near perfect pitch, but none of what I've read comes close to touching the poem's brilliance. Much has been said about the poem's history, about the poet's circumstances at the time of its writing, but, again, this kind of exploration does nothing to explain why it has touched so many so deeply.

Sometimes a poem will simply flow away from such study and carry its keeper - that is what I've become - onward to new vessels. After hearing John MacKenzie read on CBC last year and hearing him read a poem by Seamus Heaney (the audio is on Salt and Ice, John's blog), I began to hear, or almost hear (or whatever it is the mind does to make this happen) my beloved "The Sunlight on the Garden" in John's voice. I suppose this is how great poems live on.

Listen to John MacKenzie read "The Sunlight on the Garden".

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