Robert Graves
Robert von Ranke Graves (also known as Robert Ranke Graves and most commonly Robert Graves) 24 July 1895 – 7 December 1985 was an English poet, translator and novelist. During his long life he produced more than 140 works. Graves' poems—together with his translations and innovative interpretations of the Greek myths
Greek mythology
Greek mythology is the body of myths and legends belonging to the ancient Greeks, concerning their gods and heroes, the nature of the world, and the origins and significance of their own cult and ritual practices. They were a part of religion in ancient Greece...

, his memoir of his early life, including his role in the First World War
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

, Goodbye to All That
Goodbye to All That
Good-Bye to All That, an autobiography by Robert Graves, first appeared in 1929, when the author was thirty-four. "It was my bitter leave-taking of England," he wrote in a prologue to the revised second edition of 1957, "where I had recently broken a good many conventions"...

, and his historical study of poetic inspiration, The White Goddess
The White Goddess
The White Goddess: a Historical Grammar of Poetic Myth is a book-length essay on the nature of poetic myth-making by author and poet Robert Graves. First published in 1948, based on earlier articles published in Wales magazine, corrected, revised and enlarged editions appeared in 1948, 1952 and 1961...

—have never been out of print.

He earned his living from writing, particularly popular historical novels such as I, Claudius
I, Claudius
I, Claudius is a novel by English writer Robert Graves, written in the form of an autobiography of the Roman Emperor Claudius. As such, it includes history of the Julio-Claudian Dynasty and Roman Empire, from Julius Caesar's assassination in 44 BC to Caligula's assassination in AD 41...

, King Jesus
King Jesus
King Jesus is a semi-historical novel by Robert Graves, first published in 1946. The novel treats Jesus not as the son of God, but rather as a philosopher with a legitimate claim to the Judaean throne through Herod the Great, as well as the Davidic monarchy; and treats numerous Biblical stories in...

, The Golden Fleece, and Count Belisarius
Count Belisarius
Count Belisarius is a historical novel by Robert Graves, first published in 1938, recounting the life of the Byzantine general Belisarius ....


To be a poet is a condition rather than a profession.

Reply to questionnaire, “The Cost of Letters,” Horizon (London), September 1946.

I believe that every English poet should read the English classics, master the rules of grammar before he attempts to bend or break them, travel abroad, experience the horror of sordid passion and — if he is lucky enough — know the love of an honest woman.

Lecture at Oxford as quoted in Time (15 December 1961)

Anthropologists are a connecting link between poets and scientists; though their field-work among primitive peoples has often made them forget the language of science.

"Mammon" an address at the London School of Economics (6 December 1963); published in Mammon and the Black Goddess (1965)

The remarkable thing about Shakespeare is that he is really very good — in spite of all the people who say he is very good.

Quoted in The Observer [London] (6 December 1964)

A perfect poem is impossible. Once it had been written, the world would end.

The Paris Review, "Writers at Work: 4th series," interview with Peter Buckman and William Fifield (1969)

Trench stinks of shallow buried deadWhere Tom stands at the periscope,Tired out. After nine months he’s shedAll fear, all faith, all hate, all hope.

"Through the Periscope" (1915) [first published in 1988]

Christ of His gentlenessThirsting and hungering,Walked in the wilderness;Soft words of grace He spokeUnto lost desert-folkThat listened wondering.

"In the Wilderness," lines 1-6, from Over the Brazier (1916), Part I: Poems Written Mostly at Charterhouse 1910-1914

His eyes are quickened so with grief,He can watch a grass or leafEvery instant grow; he canClearly through a flint wall see,Or watch the startled spirit fleeFrom the throat of a dead man.

"Lost Love," lines 1-6, from Treasure Box (1919)