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Stephen Spender

Religion stands, the Church blocking the sun.

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History is the ship carrying living memories to the future.

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Great poetry is always written by somebody straining to go beyond what he can do.

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There is a certain justice in criticism. The critic is like a midwife - a tyrannical midwife.

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When you read and understand a poem, comprehending its rich and formal meanings, then you master chaos a little.

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I think of those who were truly great. The names of those who in their lives fought for life, Who wore at their hearts the fire's center.

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When a child, my dreams rode on your wishes, I was your son, high on your horse, My mind a top whipped by the lashes Of your rhetoric, windy of course.

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O Night O Trembling Night

O night O trembling night O night of sighs
O night when my body was a rod O night
When my mouth was a vague animal cry
Pasturing on her flesh O night
When the close darkness was a nest
Made of her hair and filled with my eyes

(O stars impenetrable above
The fragile tent poled with our thighs
Among the petals falling fields of time
O night revolving all our dark away)

O day O gradual day O sheeted light
Covering her body as with dews
Until I brushed her sealing sleep away
To read once more in the uncurtained day
Her naked love, my great good news.

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Port Bou

As a child holds a pet,
Arms clutching but with hands that do not join,
And the coiled animal watches the gap
To outer freedom in animal air,
So the earth-and-rock flesh arms of this harbour
Embrace but do not enclose the sea
Which, through a gap, vibrates to the open sea
Where ships and dolphins swim and above is the sun.
In the bright winter sunlight I sit on the stone parapet
Of a bridge; my circling arms rest on a newspaper
Empty in my mind as the glittering stone
Because I search for an image
And seeing an image I count out the coined words
To remember the childish headlands of Port Bou.
A lorry halts beside me with creaking brakes
And I look up at warm waving flag-like faces
Of militia men staring down at my French newspaper.
'How do they write of our struggle, over the frontier?'
I hold out the paper, but they refuse,
They did not ask for anything so precious

[...] Read more

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