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Personal Choice 36

Robert Graves

She Tells Her Love

She tells her love while half asleep,

In the dark hours,

With half-words whispered low:

As Earth stirs in her winter sleep

And put out grass and flowers

Despite the snow,

Despite the falling snow.

A Slice of Wedding Cake

Why have such scores of lovely, gifted girls

Married impossible men?

Simple self-sacrifice may be ruled out,

And missionary endeavour, nine times out of ten.

Repeat 'impossible men': not merely rustic,

Foul-tempered or depraved

(Dramatic foils chosen to show the world

How well women behave, and always have behaved).

Impossible men: idle, illiterate,

Self-pitying, dirty, sly,

For whose appearance even in City parks

Excuses must be made to casual passers-by.

Has God's supply of tolerable husbands

Fallen, in fact, so low?

Or do I always over-value woman

At the expense of man?

Do I?

It might be so.

Robert Graves

Robert Graves (1895 - 1985) was a British poet, historical novelist and critic. Graves produced more than 140 works in his lifetime. His poems, his translations and innovative analysis of the Greek myths, his memoir of his early life—including his role in World War I - Good-Bye to All That, and his speculative study of poetic inspiration The White Goddess have never been out of print. He is also a renowned short story writer, with stories such as The Tenement still being popular today. He earned his living from writing, particularly popular historical novels such as I, Claudius; King Jesus; The Golden Fleece; and Count Belisarius. He also was a prominent translator of Classical Latin and Ancient Greek texts; his versions of The Twelve Caesars and The Golden Ass remain popular for their clarity and entertaining style. Graves was awarded the 1934 James Tait Black Memorial Prize for both I, Claudius and Claudius the God.

She Tells Her Love is a finely crafted poems that is concise and musical, a little box you can wind up again and again. A student once reacted to my teaching A Slice of wedding Cake by saying, ‘I’ll either take a slice of the wedding cake or give you a divorce!’


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