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Wake Forest
University Press

Wake Forest University Press

Dedicated to Irish Poetry

Wake: Up to Poetry

"The act of poetry is a rebel act."

Poem of the Week: “The Heated Minutes” by Louis MacNeice

Time ticks routinely: there are always sixty seconds in a minute, sixty minutes in an hour, and twenty-four hours in a day. The speaker in “The Heated Minutes” from our upcoming Louis MacNeice: Collected Poems describes how time feels hot, taut, and dull: the heat of anxiety, the dullness of loneliness, and the tautness of a bond that has been stretched by separation. Although time ticks indifferently to our rhythms of life, it is a unit of measurement that can perfectly enumerate the varying shades of human experience. How acutely we feel time pass directly correlates to our emotions. Just as we have all felt time slip away unnoticed, we have all endured the heated minutes that ooze slowly, cruelly elongating our suffering. In both cases we have no choice. All we can do is let time do what time does best—tick on.

The Heated Minutes

The heated minutes climb
The anxious hill,
The tills fill up with cash,
The tiny hammers chime
The bells of good and ill,
And the world piles with ash
From fingers killing time.

If you were only here
Among these rocks,
I should not feel the dull
The taut and ticking fear
That hides in all the clocks
And creeps inside the skull —
If you were here, my dear.

Louis MacNeice, from Collected Poems (2013)

Categories: Louis MacNeice, Poem of the WeekTags: ,


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