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Best Famous Robert Graves Poems

Here is a collection of the all-time best famous Robert Graves poems. This is a select list of the best famous Robert Graves poetry. Reading, writing, and enjoying famous Robert Graves poetry (as well as classical and contemporary poems) is a great past time. These top poems are the best examples of Robert Graves poems.

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Written by Robert Graves |

A Childs Nightmare

 Through long nursery nights he stood
By my bed unwearying,
Loomed gigantic, formless, queer,
Purring in my haunted ear
That same hideous nightmare thing,
Talking, as he lapped my blood,
In a voice cruel and flat,
Saying for ever, "Cat! .
.
.
Cat! .
.
.
Cat!.
.
.
" That one word was all he said, That one word through all my sleep, In monotonous mock despair.
Nonsense may be light as air, But there's Nonsense that can keep Horror bristling round the head, When a voice cruel and flat Says for ever, "Cat! .
.
.
Cat! .
.
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Cat!.
.
.
" He had faded, he was gone Years ago with Nursery Land, When he leapt on me again From the clank of a night train, Overpowered me foot and head, Lapped my blood, while on and on The old voice cruel and flat Says for ever, "Cat! .
.
.
Cat! .
.
.
Cat!.
.
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" Morphia drowsed, again I lay In a crater by High Wood: He was there with straddling legs, Staring eyes as big as eggs, Purring as he lapped my blood, His black bulk darkening the day, With a voice cruel and flat, "Cat! .
.
.
Cat! .
.
.
Cat! .
.
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Cat!.
.
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" he said, "Cat! .
.
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Cat!.
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" When I'm shot through heart and head, And there's no choice but to die, The last word I'll hear, no doubt, Won't be "Charge!" or "Bomb them out!" Nor the stretcher-bearer's cry, "Let that body be, he's dead!" But a voice cruel and flat Saying for ever, "Cat! .
.
.
Cat! .
.
.
Cat!"

Written by Robert Graves |

Free Verse

 I now delight 
In spite 
Of the might 
And the right 
Of classic tradition, 
In writing 
And reciting 
Straight ahead, 
Without let or omission, 
Just any little rhyme
In any little time 
That runs in my head; 
Because, I’ve said, 
My rhymes no longer shall stand arrayed
Like Prussian soldiers on parade
That march, 
Stiff as starch, 
Foot to foot, 
Boot to boot, 
Blade to blade,
Button to button, 
Cheeks and chops and chins like mutton.
No! No! My rhymes must go Turn ’ee, twist ’ee, Twinkling, frosty, Will-o’-the-wisp-like, misty; Rhymes I will make Like Keats and Blake And Christina Rossetti, With run and ripple and shake.
How pretty To take A merry little rhyme In a jolly little time And poke it, And choke it, Change it, arrange it, Straight-lace it, deface it, Pleat it with pleats, Sheet it with sheets Of empty conceits, And chop and chew, And hack and hew, And weld it into a uniform stanza, And evolve a neat, Complacent, complete, Academic extravaganza!

Written by Robert Graves |

Mermaid Dragon Fiend

 In my childhood rumors ran
 Of a world beyond our door—
Terrors to the life of man
 That the highroad held in store.
Of mermaids' doleful game In deep water I heard tell, Of lofty dragons belching flame, Of the hornèd fiend of Hell.
Tales like these were too absurd For my laughter-loving ear: Soon I mocked at all I heard, Though with cause indeed for fear.
Now I know the mermaid kin I find them bound by natural laws: They have neither tail nor fin, But are deadlier for that cause.
Dragons have no darting tongues, Teeth saw-edged, nor rattling scales; No fire issues from their lungs, No black poison from their tails: For they are creatures of dark air, Unsubstantial tossing forms, Thunderclaps of man's despair In mid-whirl of mental storms.
And there's a true and only fiend Worse than prophets prophesy, Whose full powers to hurt are screened Lest the race of man should die.
Ever in vain will courage plot The dragon's death, in coat of proof; Or love abjure the mermaid grot; Or faith denounce the cloven hoof.
Mermaids will not be denied The last bubbles of our shame, The Dragon flaunts an unpierced hide, The true fiend governs in God's name.

Written by Robert Graves |

Call It a Good Marriage

 Call it a good marriage - 
For no one ever questioned 
Her warmth, his masculinity,
Their interlocking views;
Except one stray graphologist
Who frowned in speculation 
At her h's and her s's, 
His p's and w's.
Though few would still subscribe To the monogamic axiom That strife below the hip-bones Need not estrange the heart, Call it a good marriage: More drew those two together, Despite a lack of children, Than pulled them apart.
Call it a good marriage: They never fought in public, They acted circumspectly And faced the world with pride; Thus the hazards of their love-bed Were none of our damned business - Till as jurymen we sat on Two deaths by suicide.

Written by Robert Graves |

Symptoms of Love

 Love is universal migraine,
A bright stain on the vision
Blotting out reason.
Symptoms of true love Are leanness, jealousy, Laggard dawns; Are omens and nightmares - Listening for a knock, Waiting for a sign: For a touch of her fingers In a darkened room, For a searching look.
Take courage, lover! Could you endure such pain At any hand but hers?

Written by Robert Graves |

Marigolds

 With a fork drive Nature out, 
She will ever yet return; 
Hedge the flowerbed all about, 
Pull or stab or cut or burn, 
She will ever yet return.
Look: the constant marigold Springs again from hidden roots.
Baffled gardener, you behold New beginnings and new shoots Spring again from hidden roots.
Pull or stab or cut or burn, They will ever yet return.
Gardener, cursing at the weed, Ere you curse it further, say: Who but you planted the seed In my fertile heart, one day? Ere you curse me further, say! New beginnings and new shoots Spring again from hidden roots.
Pull or stab or cut or burn, Love must ever yet return.

Written by Robert Graves |

The Bough of Nonsense

 AN IDYLL


Back from the Somme two Fusiliers 
Limped painfully home; the elder said, 
S.
“Robert, I’ve lived three thousand years This Summer, and I’m nine parts dead.
” R.
“But if that’s truly so,” I cried, “quick, now, Through these great oaks and see the famous bough ”Where once a nonsense built her nest With skulls and flowers and all things queer, In an old boot, with patient breast Hatching three eggs; and the next year…” S.
“Foaled thirteen squamous young beneath, and rid Wales of drink, melancholy, and psalms, she did.
” Said he, “Before this quaint mood fails, We’ll sit and weave a nonsense hymn,” R.
“Hanging it up with monkey tails In a deep grove all hushed and dim….
” S.
“To glorious yellow-bunched banana-trees,” R.
“Planted in dreams by pious Portuguese,” S.
“Which men are wise beyond their time, And worship nonsense, no one more.
” R.
“Hard by, among old quince and lime, They’ve built a temple with no floor,” S.
“And whosoever worships in that place, He disappears from sight and leaves no trace.
” R.
“Once the Galatians built a fane To Sense: what duller God than that?” S.
“But the first day of autumn rain The roof fell in and crushed them flat.
” R.
“Ay, for a roof of subtlest logic falls When nonsense is foundation for the walls.
” I tell him old Galatian tales; He caps them in quick Portuguese, While phantom creatures with green scales Scramble and roll among the trees.
The hymn swells; on a bough above us sings A row of bright pink birds, flapping their wings.

Written by Robert Graves |

I Hardly Remember

 I hardly remember your voice, but the pain of you
floats in some remote current of my blood.
I carry you in my depths, trapped in the sludge like one of those corpses the sea refuses to give up.
It was a spoiled remnant of the South.
A beach without fishing boats, where the sun was for sale.
A stretch of shore, now a jungle of lights and languages that grudgingly offered, defeated, its obligation of sand.
The night of that day punished us at its whim.
I held you so close I could barely see you.
Autumn was brandishing guffaws and dancebands and the sea tore at the pleasure-boats in a frenzy.
Your hand balanced, with its steady heat, the wavering tepidness of alcohol.
The gardens came at me from far away through your skirt.
My high-tide mark rose to the level of your breasts.
Carpets, like tentacles, wriggling down to the strand, attracted passers-by to the mouth of the clamor.
With lights and curtains, above the tedium the bedrooms murmured in the grand hotels.
There are dark moments when our ballast gives out from so much banging around.
Moments, or centuries, when the flesh revels in its nakedness and reels to its own destruction, sucking the life from itself.
I groped around me, trying on your embrace, but love was not where your embrace was.
I felt your hands stroking that physical ache but a great nothing went before your hands.
I searched, down the length of your soulless surrender, for a calm bay where I could cast a net, yearning to hear a trace of the vendor's voice still wet with the glimmer of the flapping minnows.
It was a spoiled remnant of the South.
The aroma of muscatel was tainted with whiskey breath.
I carry that dead embrace inside me yet like a foreign object the flesh tries to reject.

Written by Robert Graves |

The Spoilsport

 My familiar ghost again
Comes to see what he can see, 
Critic, son of Conscious Brain, 
Spying on our privacy.
Slam the window, bolt the door, Yet he’ll enter in and stay; In tomorrow’s book he’ll score Indiscretions of today.
Whispered love and muttered fears, How their echoes fly about! None escape his watchful ears, Every sigh might be a shout.
No kind words nor angry cries Turn away this grim spoilsport; No fine lady’s pleading eyes, Neither love, nor hate, nor … port.
Critic wears no smile of fun, Speaks no word of blame nor praise, Counts our kisses one by one, Notes each gesture, every phrase.
My familiar ghost again Stands or squats where suits him best; Critic, son of Conscious Brain, Listens, watches, takes no rest.

Written by Robert Graves |

The Caterpillar

 Under this loop of honeysuckle, 
A creeping, coloured caterpillar, 
I gnaw the fresh green hawthorn spray, 
I nibble it leaf by leaf away.
Down beneath grow dandelions, Daisies, old-man’s-looking-glasses; Rooks flap croaking across the lane.
I eat and swallow and eat again.
Here come raindrops helter-skelter; I munch and nibble unregarding: Hawthorn leaves are juicy and firm.
I’ll mind my business: I’m a good worm.
When I’m old, tired, melancholy, I’ll build a leaf-green mausoleum Close by, here on this lovely spray, And die and dream the ages away.
Some say worms win resurrection, With white wings beating flitter-flutter, But wings or a sound sleep, why should I care? Either way I’ll miss my share.
Under this loop of honeysuckle, A hungry, hairy caterpillar, I crawl on my high and swinging seat, And eat, eat, eat—as one ought to eat.

Written by Robert Graves |

Lost Love

 His eyes are quickened so with grief, 
He can watch a grass or leaf 
Every instant grow; he can 
Clearly through a flint wall see, 
Or watch the startled spirit flee 
From the throat of a dead man.
Across two counties he can hear And catch your words before you speak.
The woodlouse or the maggot's weak Clamour rings in his sad ear, And noise so slight it would surpass Credence--drinking sound of grass, Worm talk, clashing jaws of moth Chumbling holes in cloth; The groan of ants who undertake Gigantic loads for honour's sake (Their sinews creak, their breath comes thin); Whir of spiders when they spin, And minute whispering, mumbling, sighs Of idle grubs and flies.
This man is quickened so with grief, He wanders god-like or like thief Inside and out, below, above, Without relief seeking lost love.

Written by Robert Graves |

In Broken Images

 He is quick, thinking in clear images;
I am slow, thinking in broken images.
He becomes dull, trusting to his clear images; I become sharp, mistrusting my broken images.
Trusting his images, he assumes their relevance; Mistrusting my images, I question their relevance.
Assuming their relevance, he assumes the fact; Questioning their relevance, I question their fact.
When the fact fails him, he questions his senses; when the fact fails me, I approve my senses.
He continues quick and dull in his clear images; I continue slow and sharp in my broken images.
He in a new confusion of his understanding; I in a new understanding of my confusion.

Written by Robert Graves |

Id Love To Be A Fairys Child

 Children born of fairy stock
Never need for shirt or frock,
Never want for food or fire,
Always get their hearts desire:
Jingle pockets full of gold,
Marry when they're seven years old.
Every fairy child may keep Two ponies and ten sheep; All have houses, each his own, Built of brick or granite stone; They live on cherries, they run wild-- I'd love to be a Fairy's child.

Written by Robert Graves |

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 “Apr?s-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 S?ar 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 S?shuns’ 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!

Written by Robert Graves |

Escape

 August 6, 1916.
—Officer previously reported died of wounds, now reported wounded: Graves, Captain R.
, Royal Welch Fusiliers.
) …but I was dead, an hour or more.
I woke when I’d already passed the door That Cerberus guards, and half-way down the road To Lethe, as an old Greek signpost showed.
Above me, on my stretcher swinging by, I saw new stars in the subterrene sky: A Cross, a Rose in bloom, a Cage with bars, And a barbed Arrow feathered in fine stars.
I felt the vapours of forgetfulness Float in my nostrils.
Oh, may Heaven bless Dear Lady Proserpine, who saw me wake, And, stooping over me, for Henna’s sake Cleared my poor buzzing head and sent me back Breathless, with leaping heart along the track.
After me roared and clattered angry hosts Of demons, heroes, and policeman-ghosts.
“Life! life! I can’t be dead! I won’t be dead! Damned if I’ll die for any one!” I said….
Cerberus stands and grins above me now, Wearing three heads—lion, and lynx, and sow.
“Quick, a revolver! But my Webley’s gone, Stolen!… No bombs … no knife….
The crowd swarms on, Bellows, hurls stones….
Not even a honeyed sop… Nothing….
Good Cerberus!… Good dog!… but stop! Stay!… A great luminous thought … I do believe There’s still some morphia that I bought on leave.
” Then swiftly Cerberus’ wide mouths I cram With army biscuit smeared with ration jam; And sleep lurks in the luscious plum and apple.
He crunches, swallows, stiffens, seems to grapple With the all-powerful poppy … then a snore, A crash; the beast blocks up the corridor With monstrous hairy carcase, red and dun— Too late! for I’ve sped through.
O Life! O Sun!