Saturday, November 13, 2004

I’d Love to be a Fairy’s Child

CHILDREN born of fairy stock
Never need for shirt or frock,
Never want for food or fire,
Always get their heart’s desire:
Jingle pockets full of gold,
Marry when they’re seven years old.
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 (1895–1985). Fairies and Fusiliers. 1918.

[found via the totally rocking Robert Graves Trust website. Graves is pretty unknown as a poet these days, sadly. I read one of his poems at my fathers funeral so you will probably understand that we were both fans.
Graves reputation nowadays rests almost entirely on the Claudius books (which he regarded as potboilers) and The White Goddess - a very odd attempt to come up with a kind of grand synthesis of myth, poetry and the psychological impulses behind all forms of creativity. He described it himself as being "a historical grammar of the language of poetic myth." It's a terrific, but difficult, read and for a long time after publication was regarded as the product of a brilliant but shattered mind. With the rise in interest in Goddess religions over the past few decades, however, it has slowly become more well known. A odd fate for a book that was at least partly inspired by what looks very much like a psychologically D/s relationship between Graves and his long-time muse Laura Riding ...
Incidentally, I make no apologies for most of the above links being to wikipedia - Graves is an excellent example of a writer with a small but devoted and knowledgeable readership and has been well-served by the people who wrote those pages. I wouldn't dream, however, of linking to the equivalent pages of a more controversial poet (Ted Hughes, say) where the wikipedia can easily turn into a palimpsest of flames and conflicting interpretations. Which is, I suppose, a round-about way of saying that a open wiki can never really be authoritative - you will always have to know something of the subject you look up, if it is at all controversial, in order to separate signal from noise.]
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