Dead or Alive? Rescued by Poetry #OnThisDay

Poet Robert Graves was born on 24th July 1895 (120 years ago today) and died on 7th December 1985 (30 years ago this year).  On his 21st birthday in 1916 he opened The Times newspaper only to read his obituary, having supposedly been killed in action at Somme, during the First World War. A nasty shock…the horror of this war would colour his autobiography ‘Goodbye to all that’.

It was not until 1963 and in his second marriage he wrote: “I have never been so happy in all my life as now…I wrote a poem…which is one of the few poems of utter happiness ever written…this is mine, and may it excuse all the dark ones.”

‘Not to sleep all night long, for pure joy,

Counting no sheep and careless of no chimes…

This is given to few but at last to me,

So that when I laugh and stretch and leap from bed

I shall glide downstairs, my feet brushing the carpet…’

He kept his life, yet lost his youth (as a result of fighting in WWI) however it resurfaced again in his late sixties with energy and passion.  

“Poets remain in love for the rest of their lives,” said Graves; he lived to a happy 90years! “..watching the world with a detachment unknown to lawyers, politicians and financiers…”  

The poet’s world is a world like no other; it has no one channel…no one path…no one destination…it is everything and everywhere.  

The poetry a poet writes is given over to everyone.


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