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Meeting Point

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Meeting Point

'Meeting Point' is a 1939 poem by respected Irish poet and playwright Louis MacNeice. It centres around a couple in a coffee shop who share such a deep love that they have become caught up in their own world.

Below is a summary and in-depth analysis of 'Meeting Point'.

Written in1939
Written byLouis MacNeice
Form No set form
MetreIambic tetrameter
Rhyme schemeABABA
Poetic devicesRepetition, alliteration
Frequently noted imageryThe bell, the desert
ToneRomantic, reverent, grateful
Key themesLove, peace, nostalgia
MeaningThe power of an intense love to make time stand still.

Meeting Point: Poem

Let's first look at MacNeice's poem:

Time was away and somewhere else,

There were two glasses and two chairs

And two people with the one pulse

(Somebody stopped the moving stairs):

Time was away and somewhere else.

And they were neither up nor down;

The stream’s music did not stop

Flowing through heather, limpid brown,

Although they sat in a coffee shop

And they were neither up nor down.

The bell was silent in the air

Holding its inverted poise—

Between the clang and clang a flower,

A brazen calyx of no noise:

The bell was silent in the air.

The camels crossed the miles of sand

That stretched around the cups and plates;

The desert was their own, they planned

To portion out the stars and dates:

The camels crossed the miles of sand.

Time was away and somewhere else.

The waiter did not come, the clock

Forgot them and the radio waltz

Came out like water from a rock:

Time was away and somewhere else.

Her fingers flicked away the ash

That bloomed again in tropic trees:

Not caring if the markets crash

When they had forests such as these,

Her fingers flicked away the ash.

God or whatever means the Good

Be praised that time can stop like this,

That what the heart has understood

Can verify in the body’s peace

God or whatever means the Good.

Time was away and she was here

And life no longer what it was,

The bell was silent in the air

And all the room one glow because

Time was away and she was here.

Meeting Point: Poem Summary

We will now break down 'Meeting Point' stanza by stanza.

Stanza one

MacNeice begins his poem by stating that the subjects of 'Meeting Point' exist outside of time, or at least they feel as if they do. The repetition of the word 'two' emphasises that it is a couple being depicted. They are in love and feel as though time does not apply to them. They are sitting in two chairs with a glass each. Importantly, the narrator states that the couple share the same pulse. This shows how connected they are.

Stanza two

Stanza two expands on the descriptions given in stanza one. The narrator states that the couple 'were neither up nor down'. This is building on the theme of being suspended in time. However, being neither up nor down is not a typically positive description of being in love. It suggests a kind of neutrality which hints at possible issues to come. MacNeice then provides natural imagery for a moment in the vision of the stream but soon brings the poem back to the mundane coffee shop that the couple are in.

Stanza three

This third stanza once again emphasises the sense of being suspended in time. There is a bell in the air that is suspended and silent as if time is not passing. The image of a flower is also referenced. In literature, floral imagery is often associated with romance and love. However, the suspended bell also suggests a kind of tension as it must ring at some point.

Stanza four

The imagery in stanza four of 'Meeting Point' transports the lovers to a new, imaginary location. MacNeice describes a desert, complete with camels, stretching across the table between the couple. This removes the couple from the mundane world of the coffee shop into their own world instead. However, the vastness of the desert may also subtly suggest a distance between them.

Stanza five

Stanza five continues the theme of the couple existing apart from the normal passing of time. MacNeice repeats the refrain of 'time was away and somewhere else'. They are not impacted by the waiter, the clock, or the coffee shop radio.

A refrain is the repetition of a particular word or phrase in a poem.

Stanza six

This stanza once again transports the couple somewhere else, this time to a place with 'tropic trees'. The woman in the couple flicks the ash that blooms in these trees, suggesting the control the two have over their imaginary world. In reality, she is likely flicking ash from a cigarette, but the narrator finds beauty in even this simple action. MacNeice's narrator also writes that the couple do not care 'if the markets crash'. This is a reference to a historical event of a few years previous, the Wall Street Crash of 1929. This is also the poem's only reference to current events.

The Wall Street Crash of 1929 was when the American stock markets crashed. This led to a widespread economic recession that pushed many people into poverty.

Stanza seven

The narrator of 'Meeting Point' then thanks God, or whatever deity is responsible, for the time he is able to spend with his partner. He feels a sense of peace in his body due to the love for her in his heart. He clearly has a great affection for the person he is with.

Stanza eight

Stanza eight changes the previously used refrain of 'time was away and somewhere else' to 'time was away, and she was here'. The narrator writes that his life has changed because of his partner. She makes the room 'glow' for him. However, the altered refrain changes the tone of 'Meeting Point' somewhat. 'She was here' is written in the past tense, suggesting that no matter how beautiful this relationship was, it may now be over. This forces readers, at the last moment, to see MacNeice's poem very differently. It is a memory or recollection of a relationship that has now ended.

Meeting Point Poem: Tone

The tone of 'Meeting Point' is romantic and reverent. The narrator is deeply in love with his partner, so much so that they share their own world, isolated from everyone else. The two feel as if time does not apply to them and that they could let the world pass them by with little care.

The narrator's tone is also grateful. In the final stanza, he acknowledges that his partner has changed his life and brings a 'glow' into any room they are in together. Despite the fact this is a memory, the narrator is glad he has been able to experience this intense love and holds no ill will towards this unnamed woman.

Meeting Point Poem: Analysis

Now let's analyse further aspects of 'Meeting Point'.

Form, metre, and rhyme scheme

'Meeting Point' does not follow a specific poetic form. However, it has a very consistent metre and rhyme scheme. It follows iambic tetrameter, and the poem's rhyme scheme is ABABA.

Iambic tetrameter is when a poem contains four iambic feet per line. Each iambic foot has one unstressed syllable and one stressed syllable.

'Meeting Point' is made up of eight stanzas, each with five lines. Each stanza begins and ends with the same line, known as a refrain. This technique places emphasis on the line being repeated.

The metre, rhyme scheme, and stanzas of 'Meeting Point' all follow a set pattern. This reflects the themes of the poem. The constancy and power of love are focused on in 'Meeting Point'. This is reflected in the consistency of style in the poem.

Poetic devices

Let's now consider the poetic devices used by MacNeice.

Repetition

The device of repetition is heavily relied on in 'Meeting Point'. MacNeice mentions the concept of time frequently. Doing this places strong emphasis upon it. Each stanza of 'Meeting Point' has a refrain, but the one quoted below is the only refrain that is repeated in multiple stanzas.

Time was away and somewhere else (l. 1)

This refrain is repeated specifically because it mentions time. 'Meeting Point' revolves around time and how intense love can make it feel like it is standing still. Repetition also gives a sense of inescapability. The narrator could never escape or deny such a passionate love.

Alliteration

MacNeice also uses alliteration in 'Meeting Point'.

Alliteration is when the same consonant sounds are repeated at the beginning of words located close together in a poem.

Alliteration can create a certain atmosphere or tone in a poem. Quoted below is stanza six of 'Meeting Point', which contains multiple examples of alliteration.

Her fingers flicked away the ash

That bloomed again in tropic trees:

Not caring if the markets crash

When they had forests such as these,

Her fingers flicked away the ash. (ll. 26-30)

Alliteration can be found in the repeated 'f', 't', and 'c' sounds in this stanza. The 'f' sounds are soft and pleasant, reflecting the poem's romantic atmosphere. On the other hand, the 'c' sounds found in the words 'caring' and 'crash' are much harsher. They represent the much more negative and dangerous world that exists outside the couple's romantic bubble.

Frequently noted imagery

Now we will move on to imagery in 'Meeting Point'.

The bell

The image of the bell reoccurs in 'Meeting Point', appearing in two stanzas. The second stanza revolves around the image of the bell, and the final stanza also mentions it. In stanza two, MacNeice places great emphasis on the fact that the bell is silent and suspended in the air. It represents the outside world that has been frozen in favour of this couple. A bell, as used in churches, is a clear marker of the passage of time, which has been stopped and disrupted in 'Meeting Point'. The bell's silence and lack of movement are once again noted in the final stanza.

The desert

MacNeice also uses imagery of a desert in stanza four of 'Meeting Point'. He depicts an imaginary place where the couple find themselves alone, using the images of a 'camel' and 'sand' to create this. This desert is removed from reality. It only exists inside the narrator's mind. The couple are in a mundane coffee shop, but the intensity of their love makes the narrator feel like they are in their own world, totally separate from everyone else.

Key themes

'Meeting Point' centres on the theme of love. It shows a couple so deeply in love that they feel time has stopped for them, and they exist in a reality of their own. This emphasises the intensity and passion that they share. There is also a sense of peace in 'Meeting Point'. The narrator of the poem continually returns to the silence present around the couple. There are very few sounds mentioned in 'Meeting Point'. This creates a peaceful atmosphere that the narrator can palpably feel, as seen in the lines quoted below.

That what the heart has understood

Can verify in the body’s peace (ll. 33-34)

However, the last stanza of 'Meeting Point' also introduces the theme of nostalgia. MacNeice writes that his partner 'was' here, not that she still is. He speaks of her in the past tense, suggesting that this passionate relationship may now be over. This impacts the way a reader views the poem. The narrator is looking back at a beautiful and peaceful moment in his life with no resentment over the fact it has now passed.

Meeting Point - Key Takeaways

  • 'Meeting Point' is a 1939 poem by Irish poet Louis MacNeice.
  • It revolves around a couple completely caught up in their own love.
  • The poem is written in iambic tetrameter.
  • Key themes in 'Meeting Point' are love, peace, and nostalgia.
  • The devices of repetition and alliteration are used by MacNeice in his poem.

Frequently Asked Questions about Meeting Point

'Meeting Point' is about how an intense romantic relationship can make time feel as if it is standing still and that the real world does not impact the couple.

'Meeting Point' was written in 1939.

It was published in 1939.

It is about a passionate relationship between a couple in which they feel in their own world, suspended from time.

Final Meeting Point Quiz

Question

When was 'Meeting Point' written?

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Answer

1939.

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Question

What metre is 'Meeting Point' in?

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Answer

Iambic tetrameter.

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Question

What is the rhyme scheme of 'Meeting Point'?

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Answer

ABABA.

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Question

Which two poetic devices are used by MacNeice in 'Meeting Point'?

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Answer

Repetition and alliteration.

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Question

What are two important images found in 'Meeting Point'?

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Answer

The bell and the desert.

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Question

What is the tone of 'Meeting Point'?

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Answer

Romantic, reverent, grateful.

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Question

What are three key themes in 'Meeting Point'?

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Answer

Love, peace, nostalgia.

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Question

How does the couple in 'Meeting Point' regard time?

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Answer

As something that doesn't apply to them.

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Question

What form is 'Meeting Point' in?

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Answer

It has no set form.

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Question

What does the poem's consistent style reflect?

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Answer

The theme of the constancy of love.

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Question

What concept is often repeated in 'Meeting Point'?

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Answer

Time.

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Question

What does the alliterative 'c' sound found in stanza six represent in 'Meeting Point'?

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Answer

It is a harsh sound that represents the outside world.

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Question

The alliterative use of which letter creates soft and pleasant sounds in the poem?

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Answer

F.

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Question

What is iambic tetrameter?

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Answer

When a poem has four iambic feet per line.

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Question

What is the 'ash' in the poem likely referring to?

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Answer

A cigarette.

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