No reference to secondary criticism is required; this exercise is designed to test your close reading skills. Pay careful attention to the language of the following POEM and comment, as appropriate, on such technical features as form, syntax, rhythm, tone diction, imagery, voice, point of view and rhyme. How are these features implicated in interpretation?Louis MacNeice’s Meeting Point is a lyric poem consisting of eight stanzas, with five lines in each.
Its appearance on the page is structured and regular, however, counteracting the poem’s idea of time being ‘away and somewhere else.’ Each stanza’s first and last line are the same, almost reaffirming that individual stanza’s idea, each one containing a refrain, carrying it’s own little segment of the lover’s journey. For example, in the first stanza the line ‘Time was away and somewhere else’, is this stanza’s mantra and it is explored through the numbers in the stanza. ‘Two glasses and two chairs’ and ‘two people with one pulse’.
These lines convey the idea that for this couple, there is no numbers, time is not present. This idea is explored again in the last stanza, almost bringing the poem full circle if you like, time is an irrelevance when they have each other.The title of the poem ‘Meeting Point’ offers the reader the idea of a secret rendezvous or solicitous affair. On the other hand, one may assume it is going to portray lovers meeting for the first time, or a place of significance for them.
However, none of these ideas are specifically followed through. It is more like one moment in the journey of a couple so much in love. The fact that the title has no definitive article, means it could be any meeting point anywhere, belonging to anyone. It is not ‘A Meeting Point’ or ‘The Meeting Point’.
This idea of universality is followed through by the use of the 3rd person viewpoint, narrating the poem. This omniscient, all-seeing element detaches us slightly whilst ironically pulling the reader in further, as they picture themselves with their loved one in the poem. The couple not only meet in a cafï¿½, but in their imaginations they come to a point of love where nothing else matters, and that is where the beauty in the poem lies.The rhyme in the poem is alternate throughout, and this expectation is in keeping with the poem’s idea that the couple will continue to love each other despite life’s materialistic worries such as the market’s crashing or whether or not the waiter remembers them! The use of the onomatopoeic word ‘crash’ to describe this emphasises this further.
The alliteration in this same stanza again creates the feeling of everything else being trivial in comparison to the couples love. ‘Her fingers flicked away the ash/That bloomed again in Tropic Trees’ takes a minor action in the first line and transforms it into something beautiful in the second, which is very fitting with the poems main theme of love above all.The poems rhythm is natural and of a medium pulse with the use of punctuation slowing the pace at times whilst enjambment is employed to create the opposite effect. For instance, in the second stanza the second and third lines are enjambed.
This creates a flowing effect similar to that of the ‘stream’s music’, whilst the caesura in the fourth stanza in the third line causes the reader to stop, dramatizing the idea that the desert belongs to the camels, and the couple, as they sit across from each other in the coffee shop, are shut out from the rest of the world. This idea is apparent in the first stanza as well with the utilisation of the brackets. These close off the idea metaphorically and physically that the moving stairs being stopped is immaterial in comparison to love. Although other things may stop, the couples love is inexorable.
Terence Brown, in his book ‘Louis MacNeice>>Sceptical Vision’ says that MacNeice uses images of the journey of life in time, and associated with this, the image of the river (The Poet and his Imagery, p.107) This imagery is most definitely prevalent in Meeting Point, with words such as ‘stream’, ‘flowing’ and ‘water’ painting a picture of an idyllic place of love only the couple can share in. This nature imagery again plays on the idea that there is a world outside the monotony of everyday life for the couple. In stanza four the camels make a journey across the ‘miles of sand’, however this couples journey has been halted, and for now they simply want to stop and bask in their love.
The sibilance in the repeated ‘s’ sounds of the first two lines of this stanza promotes the passion that this couple share.This idyllic world of love outside the coffee shop they sit in is further enhanced by the many personifications in the poem. For instance, the bell holds its ‘inverted pose’ in the third stanza, just for the couple of course and in the fifth stanza ‘the clock forgot them’. These personifications hint that even the inanimate objects seem to be aware of the couple’s love, almost like a fairytale! Despite the nature imagery, however there are food and cafï¿½ images such as ‘cups and plates’ which serve as reminders that the couples meeting point whilst a higher affinity, is at surface level in a coffee shop.
At times it is almost as if this third person narrator has entered this world with them, and believes in it fully as he or she speak of it with such sincerity and respect. The seventh stanza pays homage to this as he or she praises ‘God or whatever means the Good/That time can stop like this’. However, the poem does become more personal in the last stanza with the line ‘Time was away and she was here’, which was originally ‘somewhere else’ reminding us that it is the couple who share the love, the narrator can only look on in wonder after all.Metaphors and similes are employed heavily and develop the vivid imagery in the poem.
There is something smooth and engaging in the line ‘the radio waltz/Came out like water from a rock.’ in the fifth stanza. This simile again transports us to a sensuous world these lovers share. The metaphor in the first stanza of ‘the two people with the one pulse’ intensifies the couple’s unity, they are as one.
Overall, the tone of the poem is romantic and warm throughout, with the idea that time does indeed stand still for lovers, crafted beautifully. MacNeice uses all the techniques I have mentioned above in his writer’s craft to implicate the understanding of the poem I have discussed.