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In Railway Halls, on Pavements Near the Traffic -- Stephen Spender

Guest poem sent in by Aseem Kaul
(Poem #836) In Railway Halls, on Pavements Near the Traffic
 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.

 No, I shall weave no tracery of pen-ornament
 To make them birds upon my singing tree:
 Time merely drives these lives which do not live
 As tides push rotten stuff along the shore.

  - There is no consolation, no, none
 In the curving beauty of that line
 Traces on our graphs through history, where the oppressor
 Starves and deprives the poor.

 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
This is one of those poems that contain within themselves the best that can
be said about them: "Paint here no draped despairs...But let the wrong cry
out as raw as wounds". In a way, I think, that sums up most of Spender's
work - what I have always admired about his poetry is its unflinching
honesty, its refusal to either stylise or make conversational. Spender
writes the simple truth the best way he can, so that even his metaphors
(though beautiful) seem to be hammered into the poem. One feels in Spender,
like one does in almost no one else, the effort of the writing - and while
this may not seem much of a recommendation, it gives his poems an air of
knowing weariness, making them that much more real. Spender has neither the
airy intelligence of Auden nor MacNiece's flowing way with words: he has
only an earthy gravity of feeling, but that too, as this poem clearly
demonstrates, is a rare and splendid gift.

Aseem

Biography:

  http://www.infoplease.com/ce6/people/A0846243.html

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