The seen and seeing softly mutually strike Their glass barrier that arrests the sight. But the world's being hides in the volcanoes And the foul history pressed into its core; And to myself my being is my childhood And passion and entrails and the roots of senses; I'm pressed into the inside of a mask At the back of love, the back of air, the back of light.
"The Mask" (The Still Centre (1939))
What I had not foreseen Was the gradual day Weakening the will Leaking the brightness awayStephen Spender
For I had expected always Some brightness to hold in trust , Some final innocence To save from dustStephen Spender
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
Since we are what we are, what shall we be But what we are? We are, we have Six feet and seventy years, to see The light , and then resign it for the grave .Stephen Spender
Great poetry is always written by somebody straining to go beyond what he can do.Stephen Spender
I simply had to get there.Stephen Spender
Eye , gazelle, delicate wanderer, Drinker of horizon’s fluid line; Ear that suspends on a chord The spirit drinking timelessness; Touch, love, all senses...Stephen Spender
No one Shall hunger: Man shall spend equally. Our goal which we compel: Man shall be man.Stephen Spender
Death to the killers, bringing light to life.Stephen Spender
After the first powerful plain manifesto The black statement of pistons, without more fuss But gliding like a queen, she leaves the station.Stephen Spender
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.Stephen Spender
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
At dawn she lay with her profile at that angle Which, when she sleeps, seems the carved face of an angel .Stephen Spender
I think continually of those who were truly great . Who, from the womb, remembered the soul 's history Through corridors of light where the hours are suns , Endless and singing. Whose lovely ambition Was that their lips, still touched with fire , Should tell of the spirit clothed from head to foot in song .Stephen Spender
Near the snow, near the sun, in the highest fields,
See how these names are fêted in the waving grass
And by the streamers of the white cloud
And whispers of the wind in the listening sky.
The names of those who in their lives fought for life,
Who wore at their hearts the fire's centre.
Born of the sun, they travelled a short while toward the sun
And left the vivid air signed with their honour.
More beautiful and soft than any moth
With burring furred antennae feeling its huge path
Through dusk, the air-liner with shut-off engines
Glides over suburbs and the sleeves set trailing tall
To point the wind. Gently, broadly, she falls,
Scarcely disturbing charted currents of air.
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.Stephen Spender
One, a poet, went babbling like a fountain Through parks. All were jokes to children. All had the pale unshaven stare of shuttered plants Exposed to a too violent sun.Stephen Spender
Whatever happens, I shall never be alone, I shall always have a fare, an affair, or a revolution.Stephen Spender
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
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
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.Stephen Spender
All the lessons learned, unlearned; The young, who learned to read, now blind Their eyes with an archaic film; The peasant relapses to a stumbling tune Following the donkey`s bray; These only remember to forget. But somewhere some word presses On the high door of a skull and in some corner Of an irrefrangible eye Some old man memory jumps to a child Spark from the days of energy. And the child hoards it like a bitter toy.Stephen Spender