Frederick Louis MacNeice (September 12, 1907 – September 3, 1963) was a British and Irish poet and playwright. He was part of the generation of "thirties poets" which included W. H. Auden, Stephen Spender and C. Day Lewis; nicknamed 'MacSpaunday' as a group - a name invented by Roy Campbell, in his Talking Bronco (1946). His body of work was widely appreciated by the public during his lifetime, due in part to his relaxed, but socially and emotionally aware style. Never as overtly (or simplistically) political as some of his contemporaries, his work shows a humane opposition to totalitarianism as well as an acute awareness of his Irish roots.
He wrote in the introduction to his Autumn Journal:
‘Poetry in my opinion must be honest before anything else and I refuse to be 'objective' or clear-cut at the cost of honesty.’
MacNeice has inspired many poets since his death, particularly those from the North of Ireland. There has been a movement to reclaim him as an Irish writer rather than a satellite of Auden (see, for example, K. Devine and A. J. Peacock, Louis MacNeice and His Influence, ISBN 0-86140-391-6). Michael Longley has edited two selections of his work, and Paul Muldoon gives more space to MacNeice than to any other author in his Faber Book of Contemporary Irish Poetry (which covers the period from the death of W. B. Yeats until 1986). Muldoon and Derek Mahon have both written elegies for MacNeice, Mahon's coming after a pilgrimage to the poet's grave in the company of Longley and Seamus Heaney in 1965. At the time of MacNeice's death, John Berryman described him as "one of my best friends", and wrote an elegy in Dream Song #267.