Modern Poetry: Studies in Practical Criticism

By C. B. Cox; A. E. Dyson | Go to book overview

13
VANITY

by Robert Graves

BE assured, the Dragon is not dead
But once more from the pools of peace
Shall rear his fabulous green head.

The flowers of innocence shall cease
And like a harp the wind shall roar
And the clouds shake an angry fleece.

'Here, here is certitude,' you swore,
'Below this lightning-blasted tree.
Where once it strikes, it strikes no more.

'Two lovers in one house agree.
The roof is tight, the walls unshaken.
As now, so must it always be.'

Such prophecies of joy awaken
The toad who dreams away the past
Under your hearth-stone, light forsaken,

Who knows that certitude at last
Must melt away in vanity--
No gate is fast, no door is fast--

That thunder bursts from the blue sky,
That gardens of the mind fall waste,
That fountains of the heart run dry.

The opening of the poem might be described as a Bardic Imperative. Graves is a poet who enjoys dressing common sense

-116-

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Modern Poetry: Studies in Practical Criticism
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page 3
  • Contents 5
  • Acknowledgements 7
  • Introduction 9
  • 1 - After a Journey 33
  • 2 - The Listeners 41
  • 3 - The Sign-Post 48
  • 4 - Futility 52
  • 5 - Easter 1916 57
  • 6 - Bavarian Gentians 66
  • 7 - Marina 72
  • 8 - The Landscape Near an Aerodrome 80
  • 9 - Snow 85
  • 10 - Spain 1937 90
  • 11 - O Dreams, O Destinations 98
  • 12 - Poem for Elsa 109
  • 13 - Vanity 116
  • 14 - Fern Hill 122
  • 15 - The Horses 128
  • 16 - A Blackbird Singing 133
  • 17 - At Grass 137
  • 18 - The Casualty 142
  • 19 - Considering the Snail 147
  • 20 - On the Death Of a Murderer 153
  • Short Biographies 161
  • Suggestions For Further Reading 165
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