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.
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