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May 2009

Pylon Poetry from Stephen Spender


Thank you to Johnathan Glancey in the Guardian for bringing my attention to poetry about pylons in this article about 'The  gaunt skeletal beauty of pylons'.  Knowing that well known poets like Stephen Spender and Cecil Day-Lewis were inspired by pylons somehow makes this whole blog seem a little less geeky.  In fact, according to this glossary of poetic terms, 'pylon poets' is a term for a 'group of 1930s left wing poets known for their use of industrial imagery'.  See this Guardian article, 'Sacred Indignation' for a lengthy but fascinating discussion of the pylon poets and the similarities between the 1930s and the current economic situation.

The Pylons – Stephen Spender 


The secret of these hills was stone, and cottages 

Of that stone made, 

And crumbling roads 

That turned on sudden hidden villages. 


Now over these small hills, they have built the concrete 

That trails black wire; 

Pylons, those pillars 

Bare like nude giant girls that have no secret. 


The valley with its gilt and evening look 

And the green chestnut 

Of customary root, 

Are mocked dry like the parched bed of a brook. 


But far above and far as sight endures 

Like whips of anger 

With lightning's danger 

There runs the quick perspective of the future. 


This dwarfs our emerald country by its trek 

So tall with prophecy: 

Dreaming of cities 

Where often clouds shall lean their swan-white neck.