Les Sylphides: Louis MacNeice

Sylphide_-Marie_Taglioni_-1832_-2

Where Where The White Flowers

Life in a day: he took his girl to the ballet;
Being shortsighted himself could hardly see it—
The white skirts in the grey
Glade and the swell of the music
Lifting the white sails.

Calyx upon calyx, canterbury bells in the breeze
The flowers on the left mirror to the flowers on the right
And the naked arms above
The powdered faces moving
Like seaweed in a pool.

Now, he thought, we are floating—ageless, oarless-
Now there is no separation, from now on
You will be wearing white
Satin and a red sash
Under the waltzing trees.

But the music stopped, the dancers took their curtain,
The river had come to a lock–a shuffle of programmes—
And we cannot continue down
Stream unless we are ready
To enter the lock and drop.

So they were married—to be the more together—
And found they were never again so much together,
Divided by the morning tea,
By the evening paper,
By children and tradesmen’s bills.

Waking at times in the night she found assurance
In his regular breathing but wondered whether
It was really worth it and where
The river had flowed away
And where were the white flowers.

Louis MacNeice

Les Sylphides
in ‘Plant and Phantom’ (1941)
The image is Marie Taglioni in the ballet (1832), via Wikimedia
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About layanglicana

Author of books on Calcutta, Delhi and Dar es Salaam, I am now blogging as a lay person about the Church of England and the Anglican Communion. I am also blogging about the effects of World War One on the village of St Mary Bourne, Hampshire.
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