“Close and slow, summer is ending in Hampshire,
Ebbing away down ramps of shaven lawn…
And August going out to the tin trumpets of nasturtiums
And the sunflowers’ Salvation Army blare of brass”
These are the opening lines of Louis MacNeice’s long poem Autumn Journal. Written throughout the closing months of 1938, it is an extraordinary mixture of contemporary political events and deeply personal reflections and memories.
I love the poem, and you will be seeing more lines from it over the coming weeks.
I have a wonderful recording of Samuel West reading an edited version of Autumn Journal for BBC Radio 4. I’m glad I downloaded at the time, as it no longer seems to be available as a podcast, although you may be able to track it down online, if you know how to do such things.