Hexagonal tables, soundproofed in green baize,
Littered with microphones,
Ashtrays, teacups… Your element, MacNeice,
A glasswalled studio, to be alone in
With a million listeners, there beneath Portland Place
And calling all nations. Go home from your work

And listen in to the voices
Swarming inside you. Try them out on the dark,
On paper, on the walls of your flat
In Primrose Hill, on this girlfriend or that

Who shares your bed and leaves you your bachelorhood
Old as Samuel Johnson’s
Wedded to London. Mother went mad
In the Old Sod, and the Celtic Twilight
Sank in the Western Approaches. Regression and flight

Were always old hat. There is only the view from the window,
Regent’s Park and Marylebone
Leafless on a winter Sunday, with nothing to do,
Only yourself to look into,
Apperceptive, stoical and true,

A string of average days
That come to nothing. See them laddering past
Like London Underground, crammed with speechless faces,
Brief, platonic. What better place
Than London, to mirror the lonely self-regard

Of a stateless person? Lay your cards
On the green baize table, it is deep underground,
A bunker of civilised sound,
A BBC studio… Thirty years dead
I see your ghost, as the Blitz carooms overhead,

Dissolve like a smoke-ring, meditative,
Classic, outside time and space,
Alone with itself, in the presence of the nations,
Well-bred, dry, the voice
Of London, speaking of lost illusions.