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Robert Graves (1895 – 1985)


Prolific English poet, scholar and novelist.
Robert Graves
Ancient Europe had no gods. The Great Goddess was regarded as immortal, changeless, and omnipotent; and the concept of fatherhood had not been introduced into religious thought. She took lovers, but for pleasure, not to provide her children with a father. Men feared, adored, and obeyed the matriarch; the hearth which she tended in a cave or hut being their earliest social centre, and motherhood their prime mystery.
Graves quotes
Let Cupid smile and the fiend must flee;
Hey and hither, my lad.
Graves
Christ of His gentleness
Thirsting and hungering,
Walked in the wilderness;
Soft words of grace He spoke
Unto lost desert-folk
That listened wondering.




Graves Robert quotes
Anglican chaplains were remarkably out of touch with their troops. The Second Battalion chaplain, just before the Loos fighting, had preached a violent sermon on the Battle against Sin, at which one old soldier behind me had grumbled: "Christ, as if one bloody push wasn't enough to worry about at a time!"
Graves Robert
The official style is at once humble, polite, curt and disagreeable: it derives partly from that used in Byzantine times by the eunuch slave-secretariat, writing stiffly in the name of His Sacred Majesty, whose confidence they enjoyed, to their fellow-slaves outside the palace precincts — for the Emperor had summary power over everyone; and partly from the style used by the cleric-bureaucracy of the Middle Ages, writing stiffly in the name of the feudal lords to their serfs and, though cautious of offending their employers, protected from injury by being servants of the Church, not of the Crown, and so subject to canon, not feudal, law. The official style of civil servants, so far as it recalls its Byzantine derivation, is written by slaves to fellow-slaves of a fictitious tyrant; and, so far as it recalls its mediaeval derivation, is written by members of a quasi-ecclesiastical body, on behalf of quasi-feudal ministers (who, being politicians, come under a different code of behaviour from theirs) to a serflike public.
Robert Graves quotes
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.
Robert Graves
But we are gifted, even in November,
Rawest 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.
Graves Robert quotes
If I were a young man
With my bones full of marrow,
Oh, if I were a bold young man
Straight as an arrow,
I'd store up no virtue
For Heaven's distant plain,
I'd live at ease as I did please
And sin once again.
Graves
Take courage, lover!
Could you endure such pain
At any hand but hers?
Graves Robert
He is older than the seas,
Older than the plains and hills,
And older than the light that spills
From the sun's hot wheel on these.
He wakes the gale that tears your trees,
He sings to you from window sills.
Robert Graves
There’s a cool web of language winds us in,
Retreat from too much joy or too much fear:
We grow sea-green at last and coldly die
In brininess and volubility.




Robert Graves quotes
I protested: "But all this is childish. Is there a war on here, or isn't there?"
"The Royal Welch don't recognize it socially," he answered.
Robert Graves
At the end of my first term's work, I attended the usual college board to give an account of myself. The spokesman coughed, and said a little stiffly: "I understand, Mr. Graves, that the essays which you write for your English tutor are, shall I say, a trifle temperamental. It appears, indeed, that you prefer some authors to others."
Graves quotes
Another War soon gets begun,
A dirtier, a more glorious one;
Then, boys, you'll have to play, all in;
It's the cruellest team will win.
So hold your nose against the stink
And never stop too long to think.
Wars don't change except in name;
The next one must go just the same,
And new foul tricks unguessed before
Will win and justify this War.
Graves Robert
Fear in your heart cries to the loving-cup:
Sorrow to sorrow as the sparks fly upward.
The log groans and confesses
There is one story and one story only.
Graves Robert quotes
By Jesus’s time the Law of Moses, originally established for the government of a semi-barbarous nation of herdsmen and hill-farmers, resembled a petulant great-grandfather who tries to govern a family business from his sick-bed in the chimney-corner, unaware of the changes that have taken place in the world since he was able to get about: his authority must not be questioned, yet his orders, since no longer relevant, must be reinterpreted in another sense, if the business is not to go bankrupt. When the old man says, for instance: “It is time for the women to grind their lapfuls of millet in the querns,” this is taken to mean: “It is time to send the sacks of wheat to the water-mill.”
Robert Graves
Love is a universal migraine.
A bright stain on the vision
Blotting out reason.
Robert Graves quotes
Sigh then, or frown, but leave (as in despair)
Motive and end and moral in the air;
Nice contradiction between fact and fact
Will make the whole read human and exact.
Robert Graves
Even nowadays an archaic sense of love-innocence recurs, however briefly, among most young men and women. Some few of these, who become poets, remain in love for the rest of their lives, watching the world with a detachment unknown to lawyers, politicians, financiers, and all other ministers of that blind and irresponsible successor to matriarchy and patriarchy — the mechanarchy.
Graves Robert
As you are woman, so be lovely:
As you are lovely, so be various,
Merciful as constant, constant as various,
So be mine, as I yours for ever.


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