1 April 2023 Susannah

Louis MacNeice & Apple Blossom

Apple Blossom by Luis MacNeice

I have a nice optimistic poem for you this month.

Apple Blossom by Luis 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 Eve 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.

It’s a poem about a continuous appreciation of the world and its many wonders. The ‘first apple’ from the Garden of Eden, symbol of the fall of Adam and Eve, could well be seen as a symbol of hardship and expulsion. Here the poet transforms it into a symbol of hope and renewal. He invites the reader to view every sunrise, every ocean, and every blossom, as the first and, in doing so, to recognise and appreciate each new day and whatever opportunities it offers. He takes us back to a time of childhood innocence and fresh delight. He uses religious imagery to explore the loss of, and regaining of, our youthful innocence.

Perhaps this is a poem to read when you’ve been in trouble, or your heart has been broken, or the world just seems too hard a place? It reminds us all that better times can come with a new day, and that the sky will turn blue again.

Louis MacNeice (1907 – 1963), was an Irish poet and playwright. He was a member of the Auden Group, along with W.H. Auden, Stephen Spender and Cecil Day-Lewis.

Sorry, but I have not been able to find a good YouTube reading of this poem. You will have to read it aloud to yourselves.

Did you enjoy this poem? Let me know by leaving a comment.

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Featured image- Apple Blossom photo by Artur Łuczka on Unsplash, https://unsplash.com/photos/qWo1Bgog_hE; & Luis MacNeice in 1942, by Howard Coster, https://www.npg.org.uk/collections/search/portrait/mw162069/Frederick-Louis-MacNeice0

Comments (6)

  1. Miland Joshi

    Thanks, I liked the lines

    For the next ocean is the first ocean
    And the last ocean is the first ocean

    I guess we don’t appreciate it because outer minds are too full of the first, second .. not that I’ve seen oceans that frequently, anyway!

    • Susannah Fullerton

      I have lived most of my life very near the ocean and I think these lines are a wonderful reminder never to take natural beauty for granted.

  2. Diana Paulin

    I loved it – I feel better after reading it.
    Thank you Susannah.

    • Susannah Fullerton

      Good! That was the aim. We all need poems that make us feel better about life.

  3. Beatrice Yell

    What an unusual take on Spring. So thought-provoking. I love it. Thank you Susanna. Beatrice

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