Robert Graves’ Poems

Given by a gentleman in a community in Dorset, to which we had been sent by two ladies in a health food shop.

These poems are integral to our memory of the place, and informed our next few months of wandering in ways we have yet not fully understood.

We recently put one of these poems onto our myspace site, and Robert Graves’ son wrote, with the challenging invitation of walking to Mallorca.

If you can buy a copy of Robert Grave’s autobiography, of which a great part deals with his time in the WW1 trenches, then you’ll be getting a good read.

Love without hope

Love without hope, as when the young bird-catcher
Swept off his hat to the Squire’s own daughter.
So let the imprisoned larks escape and fly
Singing about her head, as she rode by.

The Song of Bladeuwedd (trans. from medieval Welsh)

Not of my father or my mother
Was my blood, was my body.
I was spellbound by Gwdion,
Prime enchanter of the Britons,
When he formed me from nine blossoms,
Nine buds of various kind.
From primrose of the mountain,
Broom, meadow-sweet and cockle,
Together intertwined,
From the bean in its shade bearing
A white spectral army
Of earth, of earthly kind,
From blossoms of the nettle,
Oak, thorn and bashful chestnut –
Nine powers of nine flowers,
Nine powers in one combined,
Nine buds of plant and tree.
Long and white are my fingers
As the ninth wave of the sea

The White Goddess

All Saints revile her, and all sober men
Ruled by the God Apollo’s golden mean –
In scorn of which we sailed to find her
In distant regions likeliest to hold her
Whom we desired above all things to know,
Sister of the mirage and echo.

It was a virtue not to stay,
To go our headstrong and heroic way,
Seeking her out at the volcano’s head,
Among pack ice, or where the track had faded
Beyond the cavern of the seven sleepers.
Whose broad high brow was white as any leper’s,
Whose eyes were blue, with rowan-berry lips,
With hair curled honey-coloured to white hips.

The sap of spring in the young wood a-stir
Will celebrate with green the Mother,
And every song-bird shout awhile for her;
But we are gifted, even in November,
Rainiest of seasons, with so huge a sense
Of her nakedly worn magnificence
We forget cruelty and past betrayal,
Heedless of where the next bright bolt may fall

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