I remember him from the late 40s and 50s - he was popular then among many young people. The world is seldom a happy place for him. He is still relevant in our troubled world.
Come then all of you, come closer, form a circle,
Join hands and make believe that joined
Hands will keep away the wolves of water
Who howl along our coast. And be it assumed
That no one hears them among the talk and laughter.
Although MacNeice is not usually thought of a 'great poet' he has more memorable lines than any other non great poet of the 20th century. He was a Irish song bird in the tradition of Thomas Moore; though cankered with all the angst of his age he tries to be as blithe as he can, for the music's sake. His felicity of phrase perfumes one's idle thoughts. One feels grateful to him.
McNeice is a tragic poet who, not believing enough in the ennoblement of tragedy, contents himself (and his readers) in ‘find[ing] pathos’ in soap suds or the broken hollow doll ‘dead on the nursery floor.’ He is a poet of beautiful sadness whose poems are shattered by intrusions of happiness.