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What I'm reading

World Within World is Stephen Spender's autobiography, republished after David Leavitt plagiarized from it in a 1994 novel, When England Slept. He wrote it at age 40 & looked back to his youth as though it had been a half century earlier. People got older faster then! He says he was too shy to take advantage of offered friendship from the likes of T.S. Eliot & Virginia Woolf, but he seems to have run in those crowds early on, perhaps as Auden's mentee from their college days. His explanations about poetry & schools are incisive & convincing. 


I wanted to read this book because of his poem about the Spanish Civil War, "Port Bou," a rare war poem that admits to fear:

I tell myself the shooting is only for practice,
And my body seems a cloth which the machine-gun stitches
Like a sewing machine, neatly, with cotton from a reel,
And the solitary, irregular, thin 'paffs' from the carbines
Draw on long needles white threads through my navel.


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