Stephen Spender Poems

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Stephen Spender
Sir Stephen Harold Spender CBE, (February 28, 1909, London – July 16, 1995) was an English poet, novelist and essayist who concentrated on themes of social injustice and the class struggle in his work. He was born to a journalist father (Edward Harold Spender); his mother was Violet Hilda (née Schuster), who was a painter and a poet. Spender went to Gresham's School, Holt, but was unhappy there and transferred to University College School (Hampstead), which he later described as "that gentlest of Schools." Spender studied at University College, London and went up to University College, Oxford as a young adult. He was made an honorary fellow of Oxford University in 1973. However, he did not finish his degree at London University and lived for periods of time in Germany. He said at various times throughout his life that he never passed an exam, ever. Perhaps his closest friend and the man who had the biggest influence on him was W.H. Auden. Around this time he was also friends with Christopher Isherwood (who had also lived in Weimar Germany), and fellow Macspaunday members Louis MacNeice, and C. Day Lewis. He would later come to know W.B. Yeats, Allen Ginsberg, Ted Hughes, Joseph Brodsky, Isaiah Berlin, Mary McCarthy, Roy Campbell, Raymond Chandler, Dylan Thomas, Jean-Paul Sartre and T. S. Eliot, as well as members of the Bloomsbury Group, in particular Virginia Woolf.

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... [read poem]
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