Happy Birthday, Robert
Today in Wimbledon, England, in 1895, Robert Graves was born. 18 when WWI started, he was immediately shipped off to France. He was badly wounded and reported dead; he believed his life had been spared to write poetry. He suffered from PTSD - recurring nightmares and flashbacks that paralyzed and terrified him. But after he married he began to write, prolifically. In 1929 he published a memoir called Goodbye to All That, and he was able to support himself and his family on his writing for the rest of his life. He may be best known for The White Goddess, a exploration of poetry and myth, and his novels I, Claudius and Claudius, the God, his translations from Latin, and the controversial King Jesus. But he also wrote poetry:
When I’m Killed
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!
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.
So when I’m killed, don’t mourn for me,
Shot, poor lad, so bold and young,
Killed and gone—don’t mourn for me.
On your lips my life is hung:
O friends and lovers, you can save
Your playfellow from the grave.