Stephen Spender’s “The Landscape near an Aerodrome” is a poem of thirty lines arranged into six stanzas of five lines each. The poem is a description of the flight of an airplane and its landing at an urban airport. Such a flight would still have been a somewhat unusual event in the 1930’s, and the speaker meditates upon the meaning and significance of the airplane, the landscape over which it flies, and the airport (“aerodrome” means airfield or airport) at which it arrives. The title suggests that the focus of the poem is the landscape, but in the first stanza the speaker describes the airplane. It is “More beautiful and soft than any moth/ With burring furred antennae feeling its huge/ path/ Through dusk.” In the first line, therefore, Spender announces his perspective: Modern machinery surpasses the traditional beauty of nature. However, nature is not completely lacking in the description of this machine: It has “furred antennae” like the moth to guide it through the air, but it is directed toward its destination by human design rather than by instinct. Significantly, it is gliding with “shut-off engines,” so there is no discordant sound of mechanical engines. Its descent is gentle, and it does not disturb the “charted currents of air.”
The second stanza shifts from an appreciative description of the airplane to the perspective of its passengers, who are “lulled” by its gentle descent. The landscape over which they...
(The entire section is 549 words.)