We two elementals, woman and man,
Approach each other from far away:
I on the lower wind, She on the upper.
This collection was given to me as a gift from a friend from childhood I reconnected with a few years ago. We were friends in high school and this collection was one that was once in our high school library. I have been reading through this collection for the past several months. Reading a few poems here and a few poems there. I am fairly certain I have read almost everything by now, but will still continue to page through.
This is a near complete collection covering all but the World War I poems. Graves left the war poems out of his later collections because the were too much part of the war poetry boom. World War was said to be the last war that poetry was written about. There are tomes upon tomes of first wold war poetry. Graves wrote on a wide variety topics from love to death and Greek Gods to nature. The style is simple, elegant, and straightforward:
The Twin of Sleep
Death is the twin of sleep they say:
For I shall rise renewed,
Free from the cramps of yesterday,
Clear-eyed and supple-thewed
But through this bland analogy
Help other folks face
Madness, disease, and disgrace,
I do not like Death’s greedy looks:
Give me his twin instead —
Sleep never auctions off my books,
My boots, my shirt, my bed.
Although this collection is out of print, there are other complete and selected works available. This is a collection to treasure one to enjoy on the porch with a cup of coffee or on a park bench. It is meant to be sampled rather than read from cover to cover. Mark your favorite poems with post-it notes, write in the margins, and share with others. Graves captured the essence of poetry in the 20th century and his writing is something that can be enjoyed by all.