Vain and Careless

By Robert Graves 1895–1985 Robert Graves
Lady, lovely lady,
   Careless and gay!
Once when a beggar called
   She gave her child away.
 
The beggar took the baby,
   Wrapped it in a shawl,
“Bring her back,” the lady said,
   “Next time you call.”
 
Hard by lived a vain man,
   So vain and so proud,
He walked on stilts
   To be seen by the crowd.
 
Up above the chimney pots,
   Tall as a mast,
And all the people ran about
   Shouting till he passed.
 
“A splendid match surely,”
   Neighbours saw it plain,
“Although she is so careless,
   Although he is so vain.”
 
But the lady played bobcherry,
   Did not see or care,
As the vain man went by her
   Aloft in the air.
 
This gentle-born couple
   Lived and died apart.
Water will not mix with oil,
   Nor vain with careless heart.

Source: Country Sentiment (Alfred A. Knopf, 1920)

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Poet Robert Graves 1895–1985

POET’S REGION England

Subjects Living, Disappointment & Failure, Relationships, Love, Men & Women

Poetic Terms Rhymed Stanza

 Robert  Graves

Biography

Robert Graves often stirred controversy in his endeavors as a poet, novelist, critic, mythographer, translator, and editor. Stephen Spender in the New York Times Book Review characterized Graves as a free thinker: "All of his life Graves has been indifferent to fashion, and the great and deserved reputation he has is based on his individuality as a poet who is both intensely idiosyncratic and unlike any other contemporary poet . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Living, Disappointment & Failure, Relationships, Love, Men & Women

POET’S REGION England

Poetic Terms Rhymed Stanza

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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