Robert Graves quotes

  • There is no such thing as good writing, only good rewriting.
    -- Robert Graves

    #Writing #Rewriting #Good Writing

  • There's no money in poetry, but then there's no poetry in money, either.
    -- Robert Graves

    #Money #Writing #Poetry

  • Every English poet should master the rules of grammar before he attempts to bend or break them.
    -- Robert Graves

    #Poet #Break #Should

  • I was thinking, "So, I’m Emperor, am I? What nonsense! But at least I'll be able to make people read my books now.
    -- Robert Graves

    #Book #Thinking #People

  • Every fairy child may keep Two strong 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.
    -- Robert Graves

    #Running #Strong #Children

  • Abstract reason, formerly the servant of practical human reasons, has everywhere become its master, and denies poetry any excuse for existence. Though philosophers like to define poetry as irrational fancy, for us it is practical, humorous, reasonable way of being ourselves. Of never acquiescing in a fraud; of never accepting the secondary-rate in poetry, painting, music, love, friends. Of safeguarding our poetic institutions against the encroachments of mechanized, insensate, inhumane, abstract rationality.
    -- Robert Graves

    #Humorous #Poetry #Fancy

  • Intuition is the supra-logic that cuts out all the routine processes of thought and leaps straight from the problem to the answer.
    -- Robert Graves

    #Cutting #Intuition #Answers

  • If I were a girl, I'd despair. The supply of good women far exceeds that of the men who deserve them.
    -- Robert Graves

    #Girl #Women #Good Woman

  • Love is a universal migraine. A bright stain on the vision, Blotting out reason.
    -- Robert Graves

    #Love #Vision #Reason

  • To be a poet is a condition rather than a profession.
    -- Robert Graves

    #Poet #Profession

  • The remarkable thing about Shakespeare is that he really is very good, in spite of all the people who say he is very good.
    -- Robert Graves

    #Funny #Hilarious #Laughter

  • I believe that every English poet should read the English classics, master the rules of grammar before he attempts to bend or break them, travel abroad, experience the horrors of sordid passion, and - if he is lucky enough - know the love of an honest woman.
    -- Robert Graves

    #Believe #Passion #Poetry

  • We forget cruelty and past betrayal, Heedless of where the next bright bolt may fall.
    -- Robert Graves

    #Betrayal #Fall #Past

  • Philosophy is antipoetic. Philosophize about mankind and you brush aside individual uniqueness, which a poet cannot do without self-damage. Unless, for a start, he has a strong personal rhythm to vary his metrics, he is nothing. Poets mistrust philosophy. They know that once the heads are counted, each owner of a head loses his personal identify and becomes a number in some government scheme: if not as a slave or serf, at least as a party to the device of majority voting, which smothers personal views.
    -- Robert Graves

    #Strong #Philosophy #Party

  • He found a formula for drawing comic rabbits: This formula for drawing comic rabbits paid. Till in the end he could not change the tragic habits This formula for drawing comic rabbits made.
    -- Robert Graves

    #Philosophy #Drawing #Rabbits

  • The award of a pure gold medal for poetry would flatter the recipient unduly: no poem ever attains such carat purity.
    -- Robert Graves

    #Awards #Gold #Purity

  • Strawberries that in gardens grow Are plump and juicy fine, But sweeter far as wise men know Spring from the woodland vine. No need for bowl or silver spoon, Sugar or spice or cream, Has the wild berry plucked in June Beside the trickling stream. One such to melt at the tongue's root, Confounding taste with scent, Beats a full peck of garden fruit: Which points my argument.
    -- Robert Graves

    #Summer #Wise #Spring

  • One smile relieves a heart that grieves.
    -- Robert Graves

    #Heart #Grieving

  • Poetry is no more a narcotic than a stimulant; it is a universal bittersweet mixture for all possible household emergencies and its action varies accordingly as it is taken in a wineglass or a tablespoon, inhaled, gargled or rubbed on the chest by hard fingers covered with rings.
    -- Robert Graves

    #Taken #Mixtures #Emergencies

  • This seems to me a philosophical question, and therefore irrelevant, question. A poet's destiny is to love.
    -- Robert Graves

    #Philosophical #Destiny #Poet

  • About this business of being a gentleman: I paid so heavily for the fourteen years of my gentleman's education that I feel entitled, now and then, to get some sort of return.
    -- Robert Graves

    #Years #Gentleman #Return

  • Though philosophers like to define poetry as irrational fancy, for us it is practical, humorous, reasonable way of being ourselves.
    -- Robert Graves

    #Humorous #Poetry #Fancy

  • A perfect poem is impossible. Once it had been written, the world would end. Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal.
    -- Robert Graves

    #Perfect #Poetry #Immature

  • For words of rapture groping, they"Never such love," swore "ever before was!"
    -- Robert Graves

    #I Love You #Love You #Rapture

  • Never use the word 'audience.' The very idea of a public, unless the poet is writing for money, seems wrong to me. Poets don't have an 'audience'. They're talking to a single person all the time.
    -- Robert Graves

    #Writing #Talking #Ideas

  • Prose books are the show dogs I breed and sell to support my cat.
    -- Robert Graves

    #Dog #Book #Cat

  • When the immense drugged universe explodes In a cascade of unendurable colour And leaves us gasping naked, This is no more than the ectasy of chaos: Hold fast, with both hands, to that royal love Which alone, as we know certainly, restores Fragmentation into true being. Ecstasy of Chaos
    -- Robert Graves

    #Hands #Royal #Naked

  • As was the custom in such cases, the pear tree was charged with murder and sentenced to be uprooted and burned.
    -- Robert Graves

    #Tree #Murder #Cases

  • She tells her love while half asleep, In the dark hours, With half-words whispered low: As Earth stirs in her winter sleep And puts out grass and flowers Despite the snow, Despite the falling snow.
    -- Robert Graves

    #Flower #Fall #Sleep

  • You mean that people who continue virtuous in an old-fashioned way must inevitably suffer in times like these?
    -- Robert Graves

    #Mean #People #Suffering

  • Love at first sight'some say misnaming Discovery of twinned helplessness Against the huge tug of procreation. But friendship at first sight? This also Catches fiercely at the surprised heart So that the cheek blanches then blushes.
    -- Robert Graves

    #Heart #Discovery #Sight

  • The function of poetry is religious invocation of the muse; its use is the experience of mixed exaltation and horror that her presence excites.
    -- Robert Graves

    #Religious #Experience #Use

  • Love is universal migraine, A bright stain on the vision Blotting out reason. Symptoms of true love Are leanness, jealousy, Laggard dawns; Are omens and nightmares - Listening for a knock, Waiting for a sign: For a touch of her fingers In a darkened room, For a searching look. Take courage, lover! Could you endure such pain At any hand but hers?
    -- Robert Graves

    #Pain #Love Is #Hands

  • Let all the poison that lurks in the mud, hatch out.
    -- Robert Graves

    #Poison #Mud

  • I made no more protests. What was the use of struggling against fate
    -- Robert Graves

    #Struggle #Fate #Use

  • Love without hope, as when the young bird-catcher Swept off his tall hat to the Squire's own daughter, So let the imprisoned larks escape and fly Singing about her head, as she rode by.
    -- Robert Graves

    #Daughter #Bird #Singing

  • In love as in sport, the amateur status must be strictly maintained.
    -- Robert Graves

    #Love #Sports #Inspiration

  • Haunted Gulp down your wine, old friends of mine, Roar through the darkness, stamp and sing And lay ghost hands on everything, But leave the noonday's warm sunshine To living lads for mirth and wine. I met you suddenly down the street, Strangers assume your phantom faces, You grin at me from daylight places, Dead, long dead, I'm ashamed to greet Dead men down the morning street.
    -- Robert Graves

    #Morning #Wine #Sunshine

  • The difference between you and her (whom I to you did once prefer) Is clear enough to settle: She like a diamond shone, but you Shine like an early drop of dew Poised on a red rose petal. The dew-drop carries in its eye Mountain and forest, sea and sky, With every change of weather; Contrariwise, a diamond splits The prospect into idle bits That none can piece together.
    -- Robert Graves

    #Eye #Sea #Sky

  • Poetry began in the matriarchal age, and derives its magic from the moon, not from the sun. No poet can hope to understand the nature of poetry unless he has had a vision of the Naked King crucified to the lopped oak, and watched the dancers, red-eyed from the acrid smoke of the sacrificial fires, stamping out the measure of the dance, their bodies bent uncouthly forward, with a monotonous chant of "Kill! kill! kill!" and "Blood! blood! blood!
    -- Robert Graves

    #Kings #Moon #Blood

  • Kill if you must, but never hate: Man is but grass and hate is blight, The sun will scorch you soon or late, Die wholesome then, since you must fight
    -- Robert Graves

    #Hate #Fighting #Men

  • Take your delight in momentariness, Walk between dark and dark a shining space With the grave 's narrowness, though not its peace.
    -- Robert Graves

    #Dark #Space #Shining

  • Hate is a fear, and fear is rot That cankers root and fruit alike, Fight cleanly then, hate not, fear not, Strike with no madness when you strike.
    -- Robert Graves

    #Hate #Fighting #Roots

  • I don't really feel my poems are mine at all. I didn't create them out of nothing. I owe them to my relations with other people.
    -- Robert Graves

    #People #Poetry #Relation

  • 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

    #Wind #Sea #Joy

  • Where nature with accustomed round Sweeps and garnishes the ground With kindly beauty, warm or cold Alternate seasons never old: Heathen, how furiously you rage, Cursing this blood and brimstone age, How furiously against your will You kill and kill again, and kill: All thought of peace behind you cast, Till like small boys with fear aghast, Each cries for God to understand, 'I could not help it, it was my hand.
    -- Robert Graves

    #Boys #Blood #Hands

  • Children born of fairy stock Never need for shirt or frock, Never want for food or fire, Always get their heart's desire...
    -- Robert Graves

    #Children #Heart #Fire

  • So when I'm killed, don't wait for me, Walking the dim corridor; In Heaven or Hell, don't wait for me, Or you must wait for evermore. You'll find me buried, living-dead In these verses that you've read.
    -- Robert Graves

    #Waiting #Heaven #Hell

  • 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.
    -- Robert Graves

    #Lovely #Constant #Various

  • Through the window I can see Rooks above the cherry-tree, Sparrows in the violet bed, Bramble-bush and bumble-bee, And old red bracken smoulders still Among boulders on the hill, Far too bright to seem quite dead. But old Death, who can't forget, Waits his time and watches yet, Waits and watches by the door.
    -- Robert Graves

    #Doors #Tree #Waiting

  • Entrance and exit wounds are silvered clean, The track aches only when the rain reminds. The one-legged man forgets his leg of wood, The one-armed man his jointed wooden arm. The blinded man sees with his ears and hands As much or more than once with both his eyes.
    -- Robert Graves

    #Rain #Eye #Men

  • When I'm killed, don't think of me Buried there in Cambrin Wood, Nor as in Zion think of me With the Intolerable Good. And there's one thing that I know well, I'm damned if I'll be damned to Hell!
    -- Robert Graves

    #Thinking #Zion #Woods

  • Kaisers and Czars will strut the stage Once more with pomp and greed and rage; Courtly ministers will stop At home and fight to the last drop; By the million men will die In some new horrible agony...
    -- Robert Graves

    #Home #Fighting #Men

  • But that so many scholars are barbarians does not much matter so long as a few of them are ready to help with their specialized knowledge the few independent thinkers, that is to say the poets, who try to to keep civilization alive.
    -- Robert Graves

    #Independent #Civilization #Long

  • I have done many impious things--no great ruler can do otherwise. I have put the good of the Empire before all human considerations. To keep the Empire free from factions I have had to commit many crimes.
    -- Robert Graves

    #Done #Empires #Crime

  • But give thanks, at least, that you still have Frost's poems; and when you feel the need of solitude, retreat to the companionship of moon, water, hills and trees. Retreat, he reminds us, should not be confused with escape. And take these poems along for good luck!
    -- Robert Graves

    #Confused #Good Luck #Moon

  • Nine-tenths of English poetic literature is the result either of vulgar careerism or of a poet trying to keep his hand in. Most poets are dead by their late twenties.
    -- Robert Graves

    #Hands #Poetry #Trying

  • I revise the manuscript till I can't read it any longer, then I get somebody to type it. Then I revise the typing. Then it's retyped again. Then there's a third typing, which is the final one. Nothing should then remain that offends the eye.
    -- Robert Graves

    #Eye #Finals #Should

  • 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.
    -- Robert Graves

    #Men #Arrows #Heaven

  • I do not love the Sabbath, The soapsuds and the starch, The troops of solemn people Who to Salvation march. I take my book, I take my stick On the Sabbath day, In woody nooks and valleys I hide myself away. To ponder there in quiet God's Universal Plan, Resolved that church and Sabbath Were never made for man.
    -- Robert Graves

    #Book #Men #People

  • Poet, never chase the dream. Laugh yourself and turn away. Mask your hunger, let it seem Small matter if he come or stay; But when he nestles in your hand at last, Close up your fingers tight and hold him fast.
    -- Robert Graves

    #Dream #Hands #Laughing

  • When a dream is born in you With a sudden clamorous pain, When you know the dream is true And lovely, with no flaw nor stain, O then, be careful, or with sudden clutch You'll hurt the delicate thing you prize so much.
    -- Robert Graves

    #Dream #Hurt #Pain

  • Lovers to-day and for all time Preserve the meaning of my rhyme: Love is not kindly nor yet grim But does to you as you to him.
    -- Robert Graves

    #Love Is #Doe #Lovers

  • New beginnings and new shoots Spring again from hidden roots Pull or stab or cut or burn, Love must ever yet return.
    -- Robert Graves

    #Spring #New Beginnings #Cutting

  • The difference between prose logic and poetic thought is simple. The logician uses words as a builder uses bricks, for the unemotional deadness of his academic prose; and is always coining newer, deader words with a natural preference for Greek formations. The poet avoids the entire vocabulary of logic unless for satiric purposes, and treats words as living creatures with a preference for those with long emotional histories dating from mediaeval times. Poetry at its purest is, indeed, a defiance of logic.
    -- Robert Graves

    #Simple #Emotional #Differences

  • Any honest housewife would sort them out,/ Having a nose for fish, an eye for apples.
    -- Robert Graves

    #Eye #Apples #Noses

  • What we now call "finance" is, I hold, an intellectual perversion of what began as warm human love.
    -- Robert Graves

    #Intellectual #Finance #Humans

  • Since the age of 15 poetry has been my ruling passion and I have never intentionally undertaken any task or formed any relationship that seemed inconsistent with poetic principles; which has sometimes won me the reputation of an eccentric.
    -- Robert Graves

    #Passion #Age #Principles

  • No poem is worth anything unless it starts from a poetic trance, out of which you can be wakened by interruption as from a dream. In fact, it is the same thing.
    -- Robert Graves

    #Dream #Facts #Poetic

  • Mythology is the study of whatever religious or heroic legends are so foreign to a student's experience that he cannot believe them to be true. . . . Myth has two main functions. The first is to answer the sort of awkward questions that children ask, such as: 'Who made the world? How will it end? Who was the first man? Where do souls go after death?'. . . . The second function of myth is to justify an existing social system and account for traditional rites and customs.
    -- Robert Graves

    #Religious #Children #Believe

  • Hardly one soldier in a hundred was inspired by religious feeling of even the crudest kind. It would have been difficult to remain religious in the trenches even if one had survived the irreligion of the training battalion at home.
    -- Robert Graves

    #Religious #Home #Feelings

  • Faults in English prose derive not so much from lack of knowledge, intelligence or art as from lack of thought, patience or goodwill.
    -- Robert Graves

    #Art #Faults #Goodwill

  • To recommend a monarchy on account of the prosperity it gives the provinces seems to me like recommending that a man should have liberty to treat his children as slaves, if at the same time he treats his slaves with reasonable consideration.
    -- Robert Graves

    #Children #Men #Giving

  • Marriage, like money, is still with us; and, like money, progressively devalued.
    -- Robert Graves

    #Marriage #Stills

  • No honest theologian therefore can deny that his acceptance of Jesus as Christ logically binds every Christian to a belief in reincarnation - in Elias case (who was later John the Baptist) at least.
    -- Robert Graves

    #Christian #Jesus #Acceptance

  • The gas-cylinders had by this time been put into position on the front line. A special order came round imposing severe penalties on anyone who used any word but "accessory" in speaking of the gas. This was to keep it secret, but the French civilians knew all about the scheme long before this.
    -- Robert Graves

    #War #Order #Long

  • We once discussed which were the cleanest troops in the trenches, taken by nationalities. We agreed on a descending-order like this: English and German Protestants; Northern Irish, Welsh and Canadians; Irish and German Catholics; Scots; Mohammedan Indians; Algerians; Portugese; Belgians; French. We put the Belgians and French there for spite; they could not have been dirtier than the Algerians and the Portugese.
    -- Robert Graves

    #War #Taken #Order

  • The old lady told me that all the girls in the village of Annezin prayed every night for the War to end, and for the English to go away - as soon as their money was spent. And that the clause about the money was always repeated in case God should miss it.
    -- Robert Graves

    #Girl #War #Night

  • Before an attack, the platoon pools all its available cash and the survivors divide it up afterwards. Those who are killed can't complain, the wounded would have given far more than that to escape as they have, and the unwounded regard the money as a consolation prize for still being here.
    -- Robert Graves

    #War #Complaining #Survivor

  • There is one story and one story only.
    -- Robert Graves

    #Stories #Crafts

  • There should be two main objectives in ordinary prose writing: to convey a message and to include in it nothing that will distract the reader's attention or check his habitual pace of reading - he should feel that he is seated at ease in a taxi, not riding a temperamental horse through traffic.
    -- Robert Graves

    #Horse #Reading #Writing

  • Genius not only diagnoses the situation but supplies the answers.
    -- Robert Graves

    #Answers #Diagnosis #Genius

  • One gets to the heart of the matter by a series of experiences in the same pattern, but in different colors.
    -- Robert Graves

    #Heart #Color #Patterns

  • The sap of Spring in the young wood a-stir Will celebrate with green the Mother, And every song-bird shout awhile for her; 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.
    -- Robert Graves

    #Mother #Song #Betrayal

  • Originally marriage meant the sale of a woman by one man to another; now most women sell themselves though they have no intention of delivering the goods listed in the bill of sale.
    -- Robert Graves

    #Marriage #Men #Bills

  • Fact is not truth, but a poet who willfully defies fact cannot achieve truth.
    -- Robert Graves

    #Facts #Poet #Achieve

  • The gift of independence once granted cannot be lightly taken away again.
    -- Robert Graves

    #Taken #Independence #Granted

  • Patriotism, in the trenches, was too remote a sentiment, and at once rejected as fit only for civilians, or prisoners. A new arrival who talked patriotism would soon be told to cut it out.
    -- Robert Graves

    #Cutting #Fit #Trenches

  • Anthropologists are a connecting link between poets and scientists; though their field-work among primitive peoples has often made them forget the language of science.
    -- Robert Graves

    #Links #Fields #Language

  • With eager dragon-eyes;
    -- Robert Graves

    #Eye #Dragons

  • A banker warned the British poet Robert Graves that one could not grow rich writing poetry. He replied that if there was no money in poetry, there was certainly no poetry in money, and so it was all even.
    -- Robert Graves

    #Writing #Bankers #Rich

  • Truth-loving Persians do not dwell upon The trivial skirmish fought near Marathon.
    -- Robert Graves

    #Truth #Marathon

  • A well-chosen anthology is a complete dispensary of medicine for the more common mental disorders, and may be used as much for prevention as cure.
    -- Robert Graves

    #Medicine #Prevention #May

  • To know only one thing well is to have a barbaric mind: civilization implies the graceful relation of all varieties of experience to a central humane system of thought. The present age is peculiarly barbaric: introduce, say, a Hebrew scholar to an ichthyologist or an authority on Danish place names and the pair of them would have no single topic in common but the weather or the war (if there happened to be a war in progress, which is usual in this barbaric age).
    -- Robert Graves

    #War #Knowledge #Civilization

  • Well, we've been lucky devils both And there is no need for a pledge or oath To bind our lovely friendship fast, By firmer stuff Close bound enough.
    -- Robert Graves

    #Friendship #Lovely #Devil

  • The butterfly, a cabbage-white, (His honest idiocy of flight) Will never now, it is too late, Master the art of flying straight.
    -- Robert Graves

    #Art #Butterfly #White