When We were Children
When we were children words were coloured
(harlot and murder were dark purple)
And language was a prism, the light
A conjured inlay on the grass,
Whose rays to-day are concentrated
And language grown a burning-glass.
When we were children Spring was easy,
Dousing our heads in suds of hawthorn
And scrambling the laburnum tree -
A breakfast for the gluttonous eye;
Whose winds and sweets have now forsaken
Lungs that are black, tongues that are dry.
Now we are older and our talents
Accredited to time and meaning,
To handsel joy requires a new
Shuffle of cards behind the brain
Where Meaning Shall remarry colour
And flowers be timeless once again.
Louis MacNeice, June 1944