Each day holds the promise of incredible moments, new sources of joy reborn, moments that feel like firsts again, that give a day’s worth of joy, beauty and comfort. In “Apple Blossoms”, the Irish poet, Louis MacNeice (1907-63) gently reminds us of this simple fact. Whenever we feel jaded about life and think we’ve seen it all, maybe it’s time we give ourselves a moment’s pleasure, and sit at the lakefront and take in the beauty of the light dancing on water, like it was the very first time.
By Louis MacNeice
The first blossom was the best blossom
For the child who never had seen an orchard;
For the youth whom whisky had led astray
The morning after was the first day.
The first apple was the best apple
For Adam before he heard the sentence;
When the flaming sword endorsed the Fall
The trees were his to plant for all.
The first ocean was the best ocean
For the child from streets of doubt and litter;
For the youth for whom the skies unfurled
His first love was his first world.
But the first verdict seemed the worst verdict
When Adam and Ever were expelled from Eden;
Yet when the bitter gates clanged to
The sky beyond was just as blue.
For the next ocean is the first ocean
And the last ocean is the first ocean
And, however often the sun may rise,
A new thing dawns upon our eyes.
For the last blossom is the first blossom
And the first blossom is the best blossom
And when from Eden we take our way
The morning after is the first day.
About Louis MacNeice
Louis MacNiece (1907-63) is often associated with Irish poetry of the ‘30s. He was a friend of W.H. Auden and T.S. Elliot, though in poetry, he was his own man who eschewed the ideological inspiration of the “Auden Group” and went on to write a body of work that reflected his sharp observations of the everyday world. MacNeice wrote in the introduction to his well-received autobiographical long poem, Autumn Journal, that “Poetry in my opinion must be honest before anything else and I refuse to be ‘objective’ or clear-cut at the cost of honesty.” He has inspired many poets since his death, particularly those from Northern Ireland such as Paul Muldoon and Michael Longley and there has been a movement to reclaim him as an Irish writer rather than a satellite of Auden.