Poems Written Abroad

Poems Written Abroad

The Lilly Library Manuscript
Stephen Spender, edited by Christoph Irmscher
Distribution: Global
Publication date: 07/01/2019
Format: Hardback
ISBN: 978-0-253-04167-8
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Poems Written Abroad is the first publication of the earliest collection of poetry by the famous poet, novelist, literary critic, translator, and radical, Sir Stephen Spender (1909-1995). Spender wrote and compiled this manuscript in 1927, when he was living in Nantes and Lausanne. In tone and diction, Spender’s poems range from creatively traditional to unexpectedly innovative. They reflect his reading in Shakespeare and French poetry, as well as his absorption in music and modern art. They also document his struggles with his sexual identity and his emerging desire to devote his life, at whatever cost, to the writing of poetry.

This beautiful facsimile edition, authorized by the Spender estate, faithfully reproduces the features of the original manuscript now held by the Lilly Library, including the frontispiece, an ink drawing by Spender himself, and little-known photographs of the poet. The editor’s extensive introduction and detailed explanatory notes situate Spender’s juvenilia in the context of his life and work and the history of modern poetry. The volume will appeal to readers with interests in modern poetry, gender studies, and fine books.

Author Bio

Christoph Irmscher is Provost Professor of English and Director of the Wells Scholars Program at Indiana University. His many books include Louis Agassiz: Creator of American Science and Max Eastman: A Life.

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Table of Contents


A Note on the Text

He arrives at the town

Sonnet on Absence

He finds the town

The Chateau Garden

He does not like the youth


There are roses

She Holds a Rose

He is astounded by the oppressiveness

Fragment for a Possible Romance

Two sonnets of indignation

Two Sonnets

The Confession of the Monk

To a Poet

The boy who was called "the Nightingale"

The Original Bluebeard

Written after the Fête de Dieu

A Sonnet to be Beautifully Printed

After Ronsard


Ballad of Money

Clair de Lune

To W.E.P.

Consolation of Dust

Epitaph on a Poet

Abbreviations and Endnotes

Explanatory Notes