Louis MacNeice

Last before America

A spiral of green hay on the end of a rake: 
The moment is sweat and sun-prick — children and old women 
Big in a tiny field, midgets against the mountain, 
So toy-like yet so purposed you could take 
This for the Middle Ages.

At night the accordion melts in the wind from the sea
From the bourne of emigrant uncle and son, a defeated
Music that yearns and abdicates; chimney-smoke and spindrift
Mingle and part as ghosts do. The decree
Of the sea’s divorce is final.

Pennsylvania or Boston? It was another name,
A land of a better because an impossible promise
Which split these families; it was to be a journey
Away from death — yet the travellers died the same
As those who stayed in Ireland.

Both myth and seismic history have been long suppressed
Which made and unmade Hy Brasil* — now an image
For those who despise charts but find their dream’s endorsement
In certain long low islets snouting towards the west
Like cubs that have lost their mother.

Hy-Brasil is a phantom island said to lie in the Atlantic Ocean west of Ireland. 
Irish myths described it as cloaked in mist except for one day every seven years, 
when it became visible but still could not be reached.