Robert Graves may have been something of a fruitcake - what with his multi-colored goddesses and his strange affair with Laura Riding (who literally moved in with him and his first wife, Nancy and their family. A bizarre bit of threesome which eventually drove Laura into a failed suicide attempt before the first wife bowed out and Laura and Robert packed up and moved to Majorca. ) Still in all, as with countless other dead poets - he shines every bit as brightly today as he did all those long years ago.
However, knowing the history of Robert, Laura and Wife #1 - it kind of puts the following poem in a whole new (and somewhat creepy) light, doesn't it?
The Cool Web
Children are dumb to say how hot the day is,
How hot the scent is of the summer rose,
How dreadful the black wastes of evening sky,
How dreadful the tall soldiers drumming by.
But we have speech, to chill the angry day,
And speech, to dull the rose's cruel scent.
We spell away the overhanging night,
We spell away the soldiers and the fright.
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.
But if we let our tongues lose self-possession,
Throwing off language and its watery clasp
Before our death, instead of when death comes,
Facing the wide glare of the children's day,
Facing the rose, the dark sky and the drums,
We shall go mad no doubt and die that way.