The Ecliptic – by Joseph Macleod (Waterloo Classic Texts 2023)
introduced with Andrew Duncan, Hidden Sun: The Poetry of Joseph Macleod (1903 – 1984)(2022), both published by Waterloo Press.
Joseph Macleod’s first long poem, entitled The Ecliptic, and completed in 1930, was regarded by Basil Bunting as ‘the best thing since The Waste Land . Pre-publication, Ezra Pound insisted its worth to TS Eliot, Poetry Editor of Faber and Faber. It was released alongside WH Auden’s first collection, Poems. It is not difficult to see why it generated such excitement. The diction is mesmerising, its wordplay and symbolism simply staggering for so young an author (Macleod was 26 years old at the time of completion). He divides his poem into the houses of the Zodiac using the ‘Houses’ to separate twelve Cantos, or phases, and to generate symbols which interlink as a single consciousness passes through life. As he explains in his Preface, ‘the poets of the day shrink from long poems’. Macleod certainly did not.