On the Feast of Stephen

Karl Miller

Stephen Spender was a visitor to the city of Hamburg both before the war and after, when he played a part in the work of occupation and recovery. He was well on his way to being the noted ex-communist poet, whose lyricism of the left spoke up in praise of pylons and the landing aeroplane, gliding over the suburbs, ‘more beautiful and soft than any moth’. It was in shattered Hamburg that I reviewed, in the uniform of a soldier and in a studio of the British Forces Network, his autobiography of 1951, World within World. The British Army of the Rhine was told of my enthusiasm for it. I practically stood to attention at the microphone.

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[*] Stephen Spender: The Authorised Biography was reviewed by Stefan Collini in the LRB of 22 July 2004.

[†] Journals 1939-83 were reviewed by Frank Kermode in the LRB of 5 December 1985.