A Boy in Church

By Robert Graves 1895–1985 Robert Graves
‘Gabble-gabble, . . . brethren, . . . gabble-gabble!’
    My window frames forest and heather.
I hardly hear the tuneful babble,
    Not knowing nor much caring whether
The text is praise or exhortation,
Prayer or thanksgiving, or damnation.
 
Outside it blows wetter and wetter,
    The tossing trees never stay still.
I shift my elbows to catch better
    The full round sweep of heathered hill.
The tortured copse bends to and fro
In silence like a shadow-show.
 
The parson’s voice runs like a river
    Over smooth rocks, I like this church:
The pews are staid, they never shiver,
    They never bend or sway or lurch.
‘Prayer,’ says the kind voice, ‘is a chain
That draws down Grace from Heaven again.’
 
I add the hymns up, over and over,
    Until there’s not the least mistake.
Seven-seventy-one. (Look! there’s a plover!
    It’s gone!) Who’s that Saint by the lake?
The red light from his mantle passes
Across the broad memorial brasses.
 
It’s pleasant here for dreams and thinking,
    Lolling and letting reason nod,
With ugly serious people linking
    Sad prayers to a forgiving God . . . .
But a dumb blast sets the trees swaying
With furious zeal like madmen praying.

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Poet Robert Graves 1895–1985

POET’S REGION England

Subjects Nature, Weather, Trees & Flowers, Religion, Christianity

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 Nature, Weather, Trees & Flowers, Religion, Christianity

POET’S REGION England

Poetic Terms Rhymed Stanza

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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