Studies of Robert Graves Poetry and Prose
Below is a selection of the of the main books on Robert's poetry and prose.


by J.M. Cohen

In 1929 Robert Graves went to live abroad permanently, vowing 'never to make England my home again'. This is his superb account of his life up until that 'bitter leave-taking': from his childhood and desperately unhappy school days at Charterhouse, to his time serving as a young officer in the First World War that was to haunt him throughout his life. It also contains memorable encounters with fellow writers and poets, including Siegfried Sassoon and Thomas Hardy, and covers his increasingly unhappy marriage to Nancy Nicholson. Goodbye to All That, with its vivid, harrowing descriptions of the Western Front, is a classic war document, and also has immense value as one of the most candid self-portraits of an artist ever written.


by Douglas Day

This is the first full-length assessment of the poetry and criticism of Robert Graves. Concentrating on his development as a poet from his earliest efforts in 1916 to his most recent collection and using his critical writings as commentaries on that development, it provides a judicious and needed survey of the most important aspects of Graves's career. In addition to the poetry and criticism, Dr. Day devotes considerable attention to Good-bye to All That, The White Goddess, and The Greek Myths.

The author divides Graves's poetic career into four major periods. The first (1916-1923) sees Graves's transition from the superficial Georgianism of his juvenilia, through his poems about the First World War, to what he has called his "anodynic" phase, when poetry was a cure for the stillfestering mental wounds of war. In the second period (1923-1926) Graves examined coolly and abstractly a series of problems in religion, philosophy, and psychology; in these poems of escape he attempted to avoid emotional involvement in his work. The third period (1926-1938) is the time of his literary partnership with Laura Riding, who persuaded him to curb his digressiveness and philosophical ramblings and to concentrate instead on terse ironic poems written on personal themes. The fourth period began in


by Daniel Hoffman

This book investigates the use made by three major poets—William Butler Yeats, Robert Graves, and Edwin Muir—of myths, folklore, and dreams. All three felt deeply the need to root their work in a frame of archetypes or myth. All share an identification with the folk and primitive cultures of the outlands of Britain—Celtic Ireland, Wales, and the Orkney Islands—which offered them alternative casts of feeling and contrasting associations to those of the modern industrial culture they abhorred. And all began as ballad poets. Mr. Hoffman combines in this study a scrupulous exposition of each poet's intellectual development with sensitive analysis of individual poems.

Yeats made the local legends of a remote country into the substance of great literature. Mr. Hoffman investigates the myths Yeats found and those he made from his long study of Irish folklore and legend. Successive chapters discuss Yeats's mastery of ballads; his use in "The Tower" of the peasant poet as a hero of the imagination; and his embodiment of an epic theme in the five plays about Cuchulain.

The chief complementary themes of Robert Graves's poetry are the supremacy of intuition over reason and the submission of the poet to his muse. Graves's The White Goddess provides "an historic grammar of


by Mikael Kirkham

Poetry has been Robert Graves's chosen vocation for more than half a century and he enjoys today a secure reputation. His work lies outside the main currents of English and American poetry but traces, with passionate integrity, a personal route towards mastering the challenge for poetry of twentieth-century experience. His poetic career deserves, and amply sustains, the full-scale exploration that Mr Kirkham attempts in this major critical study.

Detailed attention is given to the complexities of Graves's literary history—to the stages in his development of a poetic self, which have led surprisingly, though with inner consistency, to the discovery and exploitation of the White Goddess Myth and, more recently, to the appearance of the Black Goddess of Wisdom. But Mr Kirkham is equally concerned to bring out clearly the nature of Graves's poetic achievement and its contemporary relevance. Discussion here goes hand in hand with critical evaluation. There are also discerning analyses of many individual poems which complete an authoritative reading of one of the great poets of our time.

Michael Kirkham wrote this study partly in Greece and partly in England before taking up an assistant professorship in English in the University of Toronto.


by Patrick J. Keane

Keane's essay on Robert Graves, who might be described as the reigning minor English poet, has two major themes. As suggested by the title, the author is interested in Graves's mixture of passion and precision, emotion and artistry, and he examines the interaction of these two sides of the poet's art and personality. He also analyzes the poet's interaction with his past, Graves's consciousness of his literary heritage and his use of earlier English poetry. The appeal of Graves's poems, particularly his mythical poems, is enhanced by Keane's demonstration that they are related not only to Graves's own mythology but also to larger literary traditions. Keane sees Graves as an allusive poet interacting with his sources—the Bible, Shakespeare, Spenser, the Romantics. Keane's treatment of Graves's relationship with Yeats is the fullest discussion of the subject to date. The author reveals new insights into Graves's notorious hostility to Yeats, whom Keane considers as Graves's nearest literary relative.


by D. N. G. Carter

A poem, for Graves, is that 'magic circle in which poets by their strange dealings with familiar things enclose a living power' Robert Graves is one of the century's most resolutely dedicated poets—saying, doing, being nothing but what his inexorable taskmistress, the Muse, will approve. His is 'an overriding poetic obsession', and few poets have suffered more at the hands of a fate so persistently embraced. Fewer still, however, have wrought that suffering into so remarkable a poetry.


by Patrick J. Quinn

This book presents a study of two English writers whose initial friendship developed from a chance meeting in the trenches of the Somme to one of the more important symbiotic soldier-poet relationships of the 1920s—Robert Graves and Siegfried Sassoon. Patrick J. Quinn examines both writers' autobiographical works, scrutinizing the transitions in their poetry, from pre-war jottings through post-war struggles, to find their poetic voices. This developmental approach provides an opportunity to much of their poetry that has hitherto been largely ignored, and helps explain why both men turned in the late 1920s to writing autobiographical prose fiction to purge the war and its aftereffects from their lives.

Both Graves and Sassoon achieved their first real poetic successes during the Great War. Linked together as fellow offcers and friends, and flushed with the promise of greater poetic achievement ahead, both writers perceived the war initially as a vehicle by which they could rid themselves of Victorian influences and startling results as realists. But as the uar continued and both men began to suffer its effects, they realized that their verses had failed to alert a victory-determined British populace to its jingoistic mentality.

By mid-1919 both poets were trying to adjust to civilian statuvand reorganize their lives after the up ... Graves attempted at...


by John Smeds

The British Poet and man of letters Robert Graves (1895-1985) probably took myths more seriously than any other twentieth century author. He not only wrote—made statements—about myths, but also used mythic forms for telling stories. The stories were based on the statements, and the statements became ultimately indistinguishable from one another—thus creating a new myth.


by Helen McPhail and Philip Guest

The war memoirs of these two officers with the Royal Welsh Fusiliers have never been out of print since their first publication. Both men won instant and enduring fame with these very different narratives, which made them two of the most influential participants in shaping later attitudes to the war. Graves gave offence in many quarters with his factual inaccuracies and/or slurs on various units of the British Army. Sassoon's nostalgic evocation of his cricketing and fox-hunting background contrast with the detailed narrative of personalities and life in the Battle of the Somme and the Battle of Arras. The thinly disguised names of real fellow officers are unravelled to help illustrate Sassoon's poetry and actions.


Edited by Grevel Lindop and Ian Firla

This book offers perspectives on The White Goddess, its origins, and influences from a variety of viewpoints, including biography, cultural history, literary criticism, textual studies, and Celtic studies, exploring the personal and historical tensions which shaped the book, the challenges of interpretation it poses for the reader, and its influence on the poets whom it has inspired. The present volume brings together scholars from backgrounds as diverse as the many fields which Graves explored and revolutionized in his book, to meet the challenge of decoding, clarifying, and reassessing this puzzling masterpiece, and of making it accessible to a new generation of readers. The result is an essential primer for anyone who wants to understand Robert Graves's most fascinating and inspiring work. The White Goddess is the most remarkable work of an extraordinary Presenting the personal mythology and poetic theories of Robert Graves, a major modem poet, it is reading for anyone concerned with poetry, myth, gender, or religion and has been a vital source of inspiration for poets and scholars ever since its appearance in 1948. Yet it is not an easy book to read or understand. Described on its first publication as a prodigious, monstrous, indescribable book, The "lite Goddess delves into matters as diverse as the origins of religion, the history of the alphabet, the structure of prehistoric calendars, the nature of poetic creativity, the secret leaming of the Celtic Druids, and the precarious future of industrial capitalism Written in the wake of Graves's intense relationship with the American poet Laura Riding, it also offers a radical reinterpretation of the role of the fem both in poetic creativity and in the history of civilization.


by Frank L. Kersnowski

Like many writers of his generation, including Ernest Hemingway, e. e. cummings, and Siegfried Sassoon, poet Robert Graves was indelibly marked by his experience of trench warfare in World War I. The horrific battles in which he fought and his guilt over surviving when so many perished left Graves shell-shocked and disoriented, desperately seeking a way to bridge the rupture between his conventional upbringing and the uncertainties and fears of postwar British society.

In this study of Graves's early poetry, Frank Kersnowski explores how his war neurosis opened a door into the unconscious for Graves and led him to reject the essential components of the Western idea of reality— reason and predictability. In particular, Kersnowski traces the emergence in Graves's early poems of a figure he later called "The White Goddess," a being at once terrifying and glorious, who sustains life and inspires poetry. Drawing on interviews with Graves's widow Beryl and daughter Catherine, as well as unpublished correspondence and drafts of poems, Kersnowski argues that Graves actually experienced the White Goddess as a real being and that his life as a poet and scholar was driven by the purpose of celebrating and explaining this deity and her matriarchy.


edited by A. G. G. Gibson

Attempts to receive the texts, images, and material culture of ancient Greece and Rome inevitably run the risk of appropriating the past in order to authenticate the present. Exploring the ways in which the classical past has been mapped over the centuries allows us to trace the avowal and disavowal of values and identities, old and new. Classical Presences brings the latest scholarship to bear on the contexts, theory, and practice of such use, and abuse, of the classical past.

Poet Robert Graves's use of material from classical sources has been contentious to scholars for many years, with a number of classicists baulking at his interpretation of myth and his novelization of history, and questioning its academic value.

Collection of essays provides the latest scholarship on Graves's historical fiction (for example in I, Claudius and Count Belisarius) and his use of mythical figures in his poetry, as well as an examination of his controversial retelling of the Greek myths. The essays explore Graves's unique perspective and expand our understanding of his works within their original context, while at the same time considering their relevance in how we comprehend the ancient world.


edited by Michael Longley

Robert Graves was one of the finest poets of the last century. Born in London in 1895, he served in the First World War and was mistakenly reported killed in action at the Battle of the Somme, as he vividly recounts in his memoir, Goodbye to All That (1929). While serving in France, he befriended Siegfried Sassoon, and would be instrumental in saving Sassoon from the threat of court martial that followed his declaration against the prolonging of the war. When Graves visited Sassoon at Craiglockhart War Hospital he met Wilfred Owen, and for a time the three poets worked closely in what Michael Longley, this volume's editor, calls 'a momentous coincidence of talent'.

Robert Graves is celebrated as a love poet, a metaphysical poet, a master craftsman whose formal influence has been pervasive. He is less well known as a war poet, and this selection restores his poetry of the Great War to its proper place in the dynamic of his work. Graves's verse blossomed in the decades following the war. In 1925 he met the American poet Laura Riding, who encouraged his critical writing and became the muse of his totemic prose work, The White Goddess (1948), a vast canvas that he titled 'a historic grammar of poetical myth'. Graves's brilliant but unorthodox rendering of The Greek Myths (1955) remains a landmark publication amid an extensive output that included essays, fiction, biography, ballads and works for children. He died in 1985 and is commemorated at Poets' Corner in Westminster Abbey.

This edition of Robert Graves's poems is scrupulously selected by Michael Longley from across the full range of his lifetime's verse. It opens with an illuminating introduction in which Longley makes a persuasive case for the importance of this remarkable poet.


edited by Charles Mundye

Robert Graves's War Poems is a significant publishing event, the first book to collect all of Graves's poems from and about World War One, including for the first time the whole of 'The Patchwork Flag', and a number of poems never previously in print. It includes poems written while Graves was on active service on the Western Front, and many from the years that followed, revealing his changing perspectives on the First World War and other contemporary and historical conflicts. Graves's is an authentic voice, and his experience of fighting at both the Battle of Loos and the Battle of the Somme produces poetry revealing an extraordinary combination of fantastical and realistic nightmare.

War Poems collects Graves's first two major published volumes: Over the Brazier (1916) and Fairies and Fusiliers (1917), which incorporates poems from the privately-printed pamphlet Goliath and David. In 1918 Graves completed a third major collection of poems, to be called 'The Patchwork Hag', but which was never published as a whole. For many years the typescript lay in the Henry W. and Albert A. Berg Collection at the New York Public Library, and now appears, excitingly, almost a century after composition, as an unexpected addition to the canon of First World War.

Graves's poems are accompanied by an informative Introduction, which explores Graves's personal and professional relationships with other writers including Siegfried Sassoon and Wilfred Owen, drawing on many unpublished letters in the process. Explanatory notes explore specific biographical, cultural, military and historical contexts. The poems are published in their first edition, first impression Gym, a return to first principles also recendy adpted in the new edition (2014) of Good-bye-to-All-That, Graves's 1929 classic war memoir, a text to the War Poems.