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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! .
" 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! .
" 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! .
" 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! .
" he said, "Cat! .
" 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! .

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 |

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.

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Written by Robert Graves |

The Bough of Nonsense


Back from the Somme two Fusiliers 
Limped painfully home; the elder said, 
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 Siegfried Sassoon |

A Letter Home

 (To Robert Graves) 


Here I'm sitting in the gloom 
Of my quiet attic room.
France goes rolling all around, Fledged with forest May has crowned.
And I puff my pipe, calm-hearted, Thinking how the fighting started, Wondering when we'll ever end it, Back to hell with Kaiser sent it, Gag the noise, pack up and go, Clockwork soldiers in a row.
I've got better things to do Than to waste my time on you.
II Robert, when I drowse to-night, Skirting lawns of sleep to chase Shifting dreams in mazy light, Somewhere then I'll see your face Turning back to bid me follow Where I wag my arms and hollo, Over hedges hasting after Crooked smile and baffling laughter, Running tireless, floating, leaping, Down your web-hung woods and valleys, Where the glowworm stars are peeping, Till I find you, quiet as stone On a hill-top all alone, Staring outward, gravely pondering Jumbled leagues of hillock-wandering.
III You and I have walked together In the starving winter weather.
We've been glad because we knew Time's too short and friends are few.
We've been sad because we missed One whose yellow head was kissed By the gods, who thought about him Till they couldn't do without him.
Now he's here again; I've been Soldier David dressed in green, Standing in a wood that swings To the madrigal he sings.
He's come back, all mirth and glory, Like the prince in a fairy tory.
Winter called him far away; Blossoms bring him home with May.
IV Well, I know you'll swear it's true That you found him decked in blue Striding up through morning-land With a cloud on either hand.
Out in Wales, you'll say, he marches Arm-in-arm with aoks and larches; Hides all night in hilly nooks, Laughs at dawn in tumbling brooks.
Yet, it's certain, here he teaches Outpost-schemes to groups of beeches.
And I'm sure, as here I stand, That he shines through every land, That he sings in every place Where we're thinking of his face.
V Robert, there's a war in France; Everywhere men bang and blunder, Sweat and swear and worship Chance, Creep and blink through cannon thunder.
Rifles crack and bullets flick, Sing and hum like hornet-swarms.
Bones are smashed and buried quick.
Yet, through stunning battle storms, All the while I watch the spark Lit to guide me; for I know Dreams will triumph, though the dark Scowls above me where I go.
You can hear me; you can mingle Radiant folly with my jingle.
War's a joke for me and you While we know such dreams are true!

Written by Robert Graves |


 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 |

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 |

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 Persian Version

 Truth-loving Persians do not dwell upon
The trivial skirmish fought near Marathon.
As for the Greek theatrical tradition Which represents that summer's expedition Not as a mere reconnaisance in force By three brigades of foot and one of horse (Their left flank covered by some obsolete Light craft detached from the main Persian fleet) But as a grandiose, ill-starred attempt To conquer Greece - they treat it with contempt; And only incidentally refute Major Greek claims, by stressing what repute The Persian monarch and the Persian nation Won by this salutary demonstration: Despite a strong defence and adverse weather All arms combined magnificently together.

Written by Robert Graves |

John Skelton

 What could be dafter 
Than John Skelton’s laughter? 
What sound more tenderly 
Than his pretty poetry? 
So where to rank old Skelton? 
He was no monstrous Milton, 
Nor wrote no “Paradise Lost,” 
So wondered at by most, 
Phrased so disdainfully, 
Composed so painfully.
He struck what Milton missed, Milling an English grist With homely turn and twist.
He was English through and through, Not Greek, nor French, nor Jew, Though well their tongues he knew, The living and the dead: Learned Erasmus said, Hic ’unum Britannicarum Lumen et decus literarum.
But oh, Colin Clout! How his pen flies about, Twiddling and turning, Scorching and burning, Thrusting and thrumming! How it hurries with humming, Leaping and running, At the tipsy-topsy Tunning Of Mistress Eleanor Rumming! How for poor Philip Sparrow Was murdered at Carow, How our hearts he does harrow Jest and grief mingle In this jangle-jingle, For he will not stop To sweep nor mop, To prune nor prop, To cut each phrase up Like beef when we sup, Nor sip at each line As at brandy-wine, Or port when we dine.
But angrily, wittily, Tenderly, prettily, Laughingly, learnedly, Sadly, madly, Helter-skelter John Rhymes serenely on, As English poets should.
Old John, you do me good!

Written by Robert Graves |

Not to sleep

 Not to sleep all the night long, for pure joy,
Counting no sheep and careless of chimes
Welcoming the dawn confabulation
Of birch, her children, who discuss idly
Fanciful details of the promised coming -
Will she be wearing red, or russet, or blue,
Or pure white? - whatever she wears, glorious:
Not to sleep all the night long, for pure joy,
This is given to few but at last to me,
So that when 1 laugh and stretch and leap from bed
I shall glide downstairs, my feet brushing the carpet
In courtesy to civilized progression,
Though, did 1 wish, I could soar through the open window
And perch on a branch above, acceptable ally
Of the birds still alert, grumbling gently together.

Written by Robert Graves |

The Cruel Moon

 The cruel Moon hangs out of reach 
Up above the shadowy beech.
Her face is stupid, but her eye Is small and sharp and very sly.
Nurse says the Moon can drive you mad? No, that’s a silly story, lad! Though she be angry, though she would Destroy all England if she could, Yet think, what damage can she do Hanging there so far from you? Don’t heed what frightened nurses say: Moons hang much too far away.

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 |

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 |

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!