Monday, 21 June 2010

More Graves




A few posts back (here) I was talking about the Robert Graves book 'On English Poetry' (1922) that I have been reading of late. On the whole books about poetry and I are not the best of friends but I love whole chunks of this one (and the 'English' is a bit misleading...a lot of it is just about poetry in general). Bits of it are hilariously dated but other sections are still spot on. Here's another chunk of it:

"The History of English Poetry is a subject I hope I shall never have to undertake, especially as I have grave doubts if there really is such a thing. Poets appear spasmodically, write their best poetry at uncertain intervals and owe nothing worth mentioning to any school or convention."

Or try this:

"The poet is the outsider who sees most of the game, and, by the same token, all or nearly all the great English poets have been men either of ungenteel birth or of good family which has been scandalized by their subsequent adoption of unusual social habits during the best years of their writing. To the polite society of their day - outsiders to a man."

Though I guess women are allowed in (or out) now too. Well, sometimes. And on that note there's a great post at the HappenStance blog just now too (here)

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37 comments:

deemikay said...

You could try The White Goddess now... that's a whole different kettle of Gravesean craziness. ;)

Anil P said...

"Outsiders to a man" says everything.

Niamh B said...

cool, Graves get a lot of mentions in "Skippy Dies" a great novel out this year... I can't recommend it highly enough - off to read happenstance now so.

shug said...

That's a picture of Siegfried Sassoon

Rachel Fox said...

Is this one better? I wasn't sure about the first one...spent a while comparing it to pictures of him as an older man...but Mark always says my lookey-likeys are appalling!

I would have thought geek McKelvie might have spotted it before you!

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Rachel Fox said...

And they were friends...they wouldn't mind, eh?
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Rachel Fox said...

And meant to say...Anil, there are so many poets around these days...there'll be no-one left inside soon enough!
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deemikay said...

Actually I did... ;)

RG was, erm, striking.

Regards,
Geek McK

PS quite right about the inside/outside... poetry everywhere and everyone's a poet. Most tiresome! But Time'll sieve out the good ones.

deemikay said...

PPS And RG had a very fine nose, very fine... judge poets by their noses. It's the centrepiece of my new criteria.

Rachel Fox said...

Well, you might have said something! Luckily I have no kudos in poetryworld to lose...
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Rachel Fox said...

Oh well, I have a big nose - that's hopeful then.
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deemikay said...

Apologies...

But I'm kudosless as well. :)

(Big nose? You? I never noticed... but shapeliness comes into it as well.)

Rachel Fenton said...

Was thinking about putting myself back indoors as far as poetry but, well, I do have the nose of a poet - ha!

Rachel Fox said...

Well my nose doesn't seem so big now but when I was a teenager it grew ahead of its time...plus I was skinnier then so it stuck out more! Now there is more balance. Or something. As for shapeliness...I couldn't possibly judge.

And how the hell did we get onto noses! McKelvie!

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Marion said...

I've only ever read his The White Goddess, which is hilarious.

Titus said...

Geek McKay here. I don't think I'd have noticed. Or pointed it out.
I do love "The White Goddess" though.

Eryl Shields said...

Housewife Shields here: I've not read any of the books mentioned and if you'd posted a picture of Gertrude Jekyll I wouldn't have noticed. And, my nose could never be described as fine, it's more of a splodge than a nose. Back to the kitchen for me.

Rachel Fox said...

I think most people couldn't pick most poets out in a line-up... looks are just not what we know them for (lucky for some, eh?).

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deemikay said...

Who mentioned noses?

Since I was little I've always had an annoying want to see what writers look like... I still associate lots of poets with certain pictures I first saw before I was 10 in the encyclopaedias we had - EE Cummings will always look like this photo, and Yeats like this.

Maybe it's that "men are more visually stimulated than women" thing...

I know it makes no difference though.

Rachel Fox said...

Or it could be that if women want to look at photos of men they pick ones who aren't poets...

Only joking...

Never seen a pic of cummings before. I had imagined him (I now realise) as a cartoon character and not a real man at all. Shame. Another bubble popped.

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deemikay said...

There's an interesting list! "Top 10 fittest poets..."

I confess to struggling. :os

My friend Jim was under the impression, for many, many years, that Ted Hughes looked like Arthur Negus. he doesn't know who he got him confused with...

Rachel Fox said...

Maybe he did but employed a body double for public engagements. Or something.

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Rachel Fox said...

And anyway... I could pick all the Osmonds out in a line-up. Well, I could... and our encylopaedias didn't have pictures.
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deemikay said...

We had cheap encyclopaedias... :)

Rachel Fox said...

Free with cornflakes?

deemikay said...

Slightly more expensive than that, but much less expensive than the Britannica. And American.

Rachel Fox said...

The ones we had are still in Mum's sitting room...Everyman's, they're called (printed late '50s). Very small print, very few pics...but I remember using them for homework as a wee 'un. Never used them for matters literary though.

Off to bed now.

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Titus said...

Now I'll be laying in bed thinking about "Fittest Poets (Male)" because no one is leaping to mind.

Rachel Fox said...

Well, it's morning now...think of anyone?

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Titus said...

Er, no.

shug said...

emancipation's been a true waste of time, hasn't it?

Rachel Fox said...

I think you'll find it was a man who started this strand of thought (see a few comments up).

What's wrong - in a bad mood because England didn't lose?

Rachel Fox said...

Oh, and I've changed my mind - you're sometimes the funniest. Scratch that 'always' from before.
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Titus said...

Tee Hee.

Titus said...

Tee Hee.

Totalfeckineejit said...

Wouldn't have known that was Sassoon. Maybe If I could have seen his haircut.

Rachel Fox said...

Now, that's funny!
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