Spender, Stephen. (1909 - 1995).
W o r k
- 1930s: wrote political and social poems, poems on social injustice and class struggle, and poems on his experience of the Spanish Civil War
- 1950s and on: retreats from political writing, puts an increasing stress on private emotions and relationships
Twenty Poems (1920), Poems (1933), and The Still Centre (1939):
- intermixes public, political, and private verse
- achieves the most effective balance of personal response and public engagement in the poems of his Spanish Civil War experience
- preface to The Still Centre explains why the poems had not struck a more heroic note: ‘a poet can only write about what is true to his own experience, not about what he would like to be true to his experience’
> “What I Expected”:
- contrasts his romanticised expectations about war x his actual experience
> “An Elementary School Classroom in a Slum”:
- points out the cultural anomalies and class conflicts in inter-war Britain
> “A Footnote (from Marx’s Chapter, The Working Day)”:
- evokes historical injustice in the voices of Victorian slum-children
> “Two Armies” and “Ultima Ratio Regum”:
- develop erotic implications of the intimacy of huddled sleeping soldiers
> “Port Bou”:
- confesses his failure to convey a sense of the heroic at the ‘still centre’ both of the war and of the poet’s consciousness
"In railway halls, on pavements near the traffic, / They beg, their eyes made big by empty staring / And only measuring Time, like the blank clock."
From "In railway halls, on pavements near the traffic."
AuthorSir Stephen Harold Spender. (1909 - 1995). British.
WorkPoet. Member of Auden's Circle.
GenresLeft-wing poetry in 1930s. War poetry.
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