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Stephen Spender (1909 – 1995)

English poet and essayist who focused on themes of social injustice and the class struggle in his work.
Stephen Spender
The laurelled exiles, kneeling to kiss these sands.
Number there freedom's friends. One who
Within the element of endless summer,
Like leaf in amber, petrified by light,
Studied the root of action. One in a garret
Read books as though he broke up flints.
Spender quotes
All the posters on the walls
All the leaflets in the streets
Are mutilated, destroyed or run in rain,
Their words blotted out with tears,
Skins peeling from their bodies
In the victorious hurricane.
Ah, like a comet through flame she moves entranced
Wrapt in her music no bird song, no, nor bough
Breaking with honey buds, shall ever equal.

Spender Stephen quotes
Death to the killers, bringing light to life.
Spender Stephen
Paint here no draped despairs, no saddening clouds
Where the soul rests, proclaims eternity.
But let the wrong cry out as raw as wounds
This Time forgets and never heals, far less transcends.
Stephen Spender quotes
Across this dazzling
August morning
The dolphins write such
With power to wake
Me prisoned in
My human speech
They sign: 'I AM!'
Stephen Spender
The guns spell money's ultimate reason
In letters of lead on the spring hillside.
But the boy lying dead under the olive trees
Was too young and too silly
To have been notable to their important eye.
He was a better target for a kiss.
Spender Stephen quotes
History has tongues
Has angels has guns has saved has praised
Today proclaims
Achievements of her exiles long returned
Now no more rootless, for whom her printed page
Glazes their bruised waste years in one
Balancing present sky.
Then, as they land, they hear the tolling bell
Reaching across the landscape of hysteria,
To where larger than all the charcoaled batteries
And imaged towers against that dying sky,
Religion stands, the church blocking the sun.
Spender Stephen
And if this I were destroyed,
The image shattered,
My perceived, rent world would fly
In an explosion of final judgement
To the ends of the sky,
The colour in the iris of the eye.
Opening, my eyes say 'Let there be light',
Closing, they shut me in a coffin.
Stephen Spender
Surely, Shakespeare is wicked and the map a bad example
With ships and sun and love tempting them to steal
For lives that slyly turn in their cramped holes
From fog to endless night? On their slag heap, these children
Wear skins peeped through by bones and spectacles of steel
With mended glass, like bottle bits on stones.
All of their time and space are foggy slum.
So blot their maps with slums as big as doom.

Stephen Spender quotes
The ultimate aim of politics is not politics, but the activities which can be practised within the political framework of the State. Therefore an effective statement of these activities e.g. science, art, religion is in itself a declaration of ultimate aims around which the political means will crystallise a society with no values outside of politics is a machine carrying its human cargo, with no purpose in its institutions reflecting their care, eternal aspirations, loneliness, need for love.
Stephen Spender
To break out of the chaos of my darkness
Into a lucid day is all my will.
My words like eyes in night, stare to reach
A centre for their light: and my acts thrown
To distant places by impatient violence
Yet lock together to mould a path of stone
Out of my darkness into a lucid day.
Spender quotes
My words like eyes that flinch from light, refuse
And shut upon obscurity; my acts
Cast to their opposites by impatient violence
Break up the sequent path; they fly
On a circumference to avoid the centre.
Spender Stephen
When you smiled,
Everything in the room was shattered;
Only you remained whole
In frozen wonder, as though you stared
At your image in the broken mirror
Where it had always been silverly carried.
Spender Stephen quotes
Your heart was loaded with its fate like lead
Pressing against the net of flesh: and those
Countries that crept back across the boundaries
Where you had forced open the arena
Of limelit France with your star at the centre,
Closed in on you, terrified no longer
At the diamond in your head
Which cut their lands and killed their men.
Stephen Spender
In 1960, Spender was renowned as a figure from the past a poet of the nineteen-thirties and his work was deeply out of fashion... Most of us had been told in school that of all the thirties poets Spender was the one whose reputation had been most inflated. He lacked the complexity of Auden, the erudition of Louis MacNeice, the cunning of Cecil Day-Lewis. He was the one who had believed the slogans "Oh young men oh young comrades" and, after the war, the one who had recanted most shamefacedly. He was the fairest of fair game...
Stephen Spender quotes
Of course, the entire effort is to put myself
Outside the ordinary range
Of what are called statistics. A hundred are killed
In the outer suburbs. Well, well, I carry on.
Stephen Spender
Extensive whiteness drowned
All sense of space. We tramped through
Static, glaring days, Time's suspended blank.
Spender Stephen
Death is another milestone on their way.
With laughter on their lips and with winds blowing round them
They record simply
How this one excelled all others in making driving belts.

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