Louis MacNeice


Ordinary people are peculiar too: 
Watch the vagrant in their eyes 
Who sneaks away while they are talking with you 
Into some black wood behind the skull,  
Following un-, or other, realities, 
Fishing for shadows in a pool.

But sometimes the vagrant comes the other way  
Out of their eyes and into yours, 
Having mistaken you perhaps for yesterday 
Or for tomorrow night, a wood in which 
He may pick up among the pine-needles and burrs  
The lost purse, the dropped stitch.

Vagrancy however is forbidden; ordinary men  
Soon come back to normal, look you straight 
In the eyes as if to say 'It will not happen again',  
Put up a barrage of common sense to baulk 
Intimacy but by mistake interpolate  
Swear-words like roses in their talk.