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Two poems by Louis MacNeice, The Burning Perch, 1963.



They were introduced in a grave glade

And she frightened him because she was young

And thus too late. Crawly crawly

Went the twigs above their heads and beneath

The grass beneath their feet the larvae

Split themselves laughing. Crawly crawly

Went the cloud above the treetops reaching

For a sun that lacked the nerve to set

And he frightened her because he was old

And thus too early. Crawly crawly

Went the string quartet that was tuning up

In the back of the mind. You two should have met

Long since, he said, or else not now.

The string quartet in the back of the mind

Was all tuned up with nowhere to go.

They were introduced in a green grave.

Maybe we knew each other better 
When the night was young and unrepeated 
And the moon stood still over Jericho. 
So much for the past; in the present 
There are moments caught between heart-beats 
When maybe we know each other better. 
But what is that clinking in the darkness? 
Maybe we shall know each other better 
When the tunnels meet beneath the mountain.