Robert Ranke Graves -> Ρόμπερτ Ράνκε Γκρέιβς

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spiros

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Sorley’s Weather
 
WHEN outside the icy rain   
  Comes leaping helter-skelter,   
Shall I tie my restive brain   
  Snugly under shelter?   
 
Shall I make a gentle song      
  Here in my firelit study,   
When outside the winds blow strong   
  And the lanes are muddy?   
 
With old wine and drowsy meats   
  Am I to fill my belly?          
Shall I glutton here with Keats?   
  Shall I drink with Shelley?   
 
Tobacco’s pleasant, firelight’s good:   
  Poetry makes both better.   
Clay is wet and so is mud,        
  Winter rains are wetter.   
 
Yet rest there, Shelley, on the sill,   
  For though the winds come frorely,   
I’m away to the rain-blown hill   
  And the ghost of Sorley.

Robert Graves (1895–1985) from the collection Fairies and Fusiliers,  1918.


spiros

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The Cottage 
 
HERE in turn succeed and rule   
Carter, smith, and village fool,   
Then again the place is known   
As tavern, shop, and Sunday-school;   
Now somehow it’s come to me          
To light the fire and hold the key,   
Here in Heaven to reign alone.   
 
All the walls are white with lime,   
Big blue periwinkles climb   
And kiss the crumbling window-sill;          
Snug inside I sit and rhyme,   
Planning, poem, book, or fable,   
At my darling beech-wood table   
Fresh with bluebells from the hill.   
 
Through the window I can see          
Rooks above the cherry-tree,   
Sparrows in the violet bed,   
Bramble-bush and bumble-bee,   
And old red bracken smoulders still   
Among boulders on the hill,          
Far too bright to seem quite dead.   
 
But old Death, who can’t forget,   
Waits his time and watches yet,   
Waits and watches by the door.   
Look, he’s got a great new net,        
And when my fighting starts afresh   
Stouter cord and smaller mesh   
Won’t be cheated as before.   
 
Nor can kindliness of Spring,   
Flowers that smile nor birds that sing,          
Bumble-bee nor butterfly,   
Nor grassy hill nor anything   
Of magic keep me safe to rhyme   
In this Heaven beyond my time.   
No! for Death is waiting by.

Robert Graves (1895–1985) from the collection Fairies and Fusiliers,  1918.



spiros

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The Last Post 
 
THE BUGLER sent a call of high romance—   
“Lights out! Lights out!” to the deserted square.   
On the thin brazen notes he threw a prayer,   
“God, if it’s this for me next time in France…   
O spare the phantom bugle as I lie
Dead in the gas and smoke and roar of guns,   
Dead in a row with the other broken ones   
Lying so stiff and still under the sky,   
Jolly young Fusiliers too good to die.”

Robert Graves (1895–1985) from the collection Fairies and Fusiliers,  1918.


spiros

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When I’m Killed  
  
WHEN I’m killed, don’t think of me   
Buried there in Cambrin Wood,   
Nor as in Zion think of me   
With the Intolerable Good.   
And there’s one thing that I know well,
I’m damned if I’ll be damned to Hell!   
 
So when I’m killed, don’t wait for me,   
Walking the dim corridor;   
In Heaven or Hell, don’t wait for me,   
Or you must wait for evermore.
You’ll find me buried, living-dead   
In these verses that you’ve read.   
 
So when I’m killed, don’t mourn for me,   
Shot, poor lad, so bold and young,   
Killed and gone—don’t mourn for me.
On your lips my life is hung:   
O friends and lovers, you can save   
Your playfellow from the grave.

Robert Graves (1895–1985) from the collection Fairies and Fusiliers,  1918.



spiros

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Letter to S. S. from Mametz Wood  
 
I NEVER dreamed we’d meet that day   
In our old haunts down Fricourt way,   
Plotting such marvellous journeys there   
For jolly old “Après-la-guerre.”   
 
Well, when it’s over, first we’ll meet
At Gweithdy Bach, my country seat   
In Wales, a curious little shop   
With two rooms and a roof on top,   
A sort of Morlancourt-ish billet   
That never needs a crowd to fill it.   
But oh, the country round about!   
The sort of view that makes you shout   
For want of any better way   
Of praising God: there’s a blue bay   
Shining in front, and on the right
Snowden and Hebog capped with white,   
And lots of other jolly peaks   
That you could wonder at for weeks,   
With jag and spur and hump and cleft.   
There’s a grey castle on the left,
And back in the high Hinterland   
You’ll see the grave of Shawn Knarlbrand,   
Who slew the savage Buffaloon   
By the Nant-col one night in June,   
And won his surname from the horn
Of this prodigious unicorn.   
Beyond, where the two Rhinogs tower,   
Rhinog Fach and Rhinog Fawr,   
Close there after a four years’ chase   
From Thessaly and the woods of Thrace,
The beaten Dog-cat stood at bay   
And growled and fought and passed away.   
You’ll see where mountain conies grapple   
With prayer and creed in their rock chapel   
Which Ben and Claire once built for them;
They call it Söar Bethlehem.   
You’ll see where in old Roman days,   
Before Revivals changed our ways,   
The Virgin ’scaped the Devil’s grab,   
Printing her foot on a stone slab
With five clear toe-marks; and you’ll find   
The fiendish thumbprint close behind.   
You’ll see where Math, Mathonwy’s son,   
Spoke with the wizard Gwydion   
And bad him from South Wales set out
To steal that creature with the snout,   
That new-discovered grunting beast   
Divinely flavoured for the feast.   
No traveller yet has hit upon   
A wilder land than Meirion,
For desolate hills and tumbling stones,   
Bogland and melody and old bones.   
Fairies and ghosts are here galore,   
And poetry most splendid, more   
Than can be written with the pen
Or understood by common men.   
 
In Gweithdy Bach we’ll rest awhile,   
We’ll dress our wounds and learn to smile   
With easier lips; we’ll stretch our legs,   
And live on bilberry tart and eggs,
And store up solar energy,   
Basking in sunshine by the sea,   
Until we feel a match once more   
For anything but another war.   
 
So then we’ll kiss our families,
And sail across the seas   
(The God of Song protecting us)   
To the great hills of Caucasus.   
Robert will learn the local bat   
For billeting and things like that,
If Siegfried learns the piccolo   
To charm the people as we go.   
 
The jolly peasants clad in furs   
Will greet the Welch-ski officers   
With open arms, and ere we pass
Will make us vocal with Kavasse.   
In old Bagdad we’ll call a halt   
At the Sâshuns’ ancestral vault;   
We’ll catch the Persian rose-flowers’ scent,   
And understand what Omar meant.
Bitlis and Mush will know our faces,   
Tiflis and Tomsk, and all such places.   
Perhaps eventually we’ll get   
Among the Tartars of Thibet.   
Hobnobbing with the Chungs and Mings,
And doing wild, tremendous things   
In free adventure, quest and fight,   
And God! what poetry we’ll write!

Robert Graves (1895–1985) from the collection Fairies and Fusiliers,  1918.


spiros

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A Dead Boche   
 
TO you who’d read my songs of War   
  And only hear of blood and fame,   
I’ll say (you’ve heard it said before)   
  ”War’s Hell!” and if you doubt the same,   
Today I found in Mametz Wood
A certain cure for lust of blood:   
 
Where, propped against a shattered trunk,   
  In a great mess of things unclean,   
Sat a dead Boche; he scowled and stunk   
  With clothes and face a sodden green,        
Big-bellied, spectacled, crop-haired,   
Dribbling black blood from nose and beard.   

Robert Graves (1895–1985) from the collection Fairies and Fusiliers,  1918.


spiros

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Faun   
 
HERE down this very way,   
Here only yesterday   
  King Faun went leaping.   
He sang, with careless shout   
Hurling his name about;          
He sang, with oaken stock   
His steps from rock to rock   
  In safety keeping,   
    “Here Faun is free,   
    Here Faun is free!”          
 
Today against yon pine,   
Forlorn yet still divine,   
  King Faun leant weeping.   
“They drank my holy brook,   
My strawberries they took,
My private path they trod.”   
Loud wept the desolate God,   
Scorn on scorn heaping,   
  “Faun, what is he?   
  Faun, what is he?”

Robert Graves (1895–1985) from the collection Fairies and Fusiliers,  1918.


spiros

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The Straw
Robert Graves

Peace, the wild valley streaked with torrents,
A hoopoe perched on the warm rock. Then why
This tremor of the straw between my fingers?

What should I fear? Have I not testimony
In her own hand, signed with her own name
That my love fell as lightning on her heart?

These questions, bird, are not rhetorical.
Watch how the straw twitches and leaps
As though the earth quaked at a distance.

Requited love; but better unrequited
If this chance instrument gives warning
Of cataclysmic anguish far away.

Were she at ease, warmed by the thought of me,
Would not my hand stay steady as this rock?
Have I undone her by my vehemence?


 

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