Letters to George and Mercy McCann
MacNeice’s letters convey something of the energy and range of his poetry, and the brio and evident affection with which they are written make all the more poignant the last few items here. On the 6th August 1963 he writes in haste as he is about to leave for Yorkshire to record sound effects in a cave, but the letter is full of plans for a proposed trip to Ireland later in the month. His next letter explains that the proposed trip is off as he has been ill, but he may still come over in September when his new book (‘pretty sombre but I couldn’t help that’) is also due out.
There’s little self-pity here; his lover, the dog and his daughter are all mentioned as they have been in so many letters: continuities within the restless and endlessly curious world of MacNeice. The typed letter from a mutual friend to the McCanns explaining the circumstances of MacNeice’s death is a shock even though one knew what was coming. And then there seems something apt about the formal acknowledgement of the memorial service from the office of the Prime Minister of Northern Ireland.