Counting the Beats

Robert Graves’ Poetry of Unrest


Here is presented an existential view of Graves’ poetic, historical, and critical work, whose coherence is being emphasized. Graves’ poetic outlook is first of all ethical and his aesthetics are subservient to his aim of transforming the emotion into existential thought in order to live on, to probe the experience, and to give it its ontological resonance. The divine capacity is to be found within the individual soul. It is immanent but transcends the phenomenological world. Like Kierkegaard, the poet experiences a feeling of certainty when faith animates him. In the present moment, he gets glimpses of paradise – the plenitude of being. No clipped wings, no well polished discipline or well-behaved guidance. In Kierkegaard’s words, the poet’s sphere is not the universal, or general, but the religious, or individual, sphere – faith, not the concept; self-confidence, not conformity to any over-simplified logic.
Graves’ stance is paradoxical throughout: he was not politically involved (except immediately after the war when he said he was a Socialist), but evinced some political ideas in his essays. He was not religious, but poetry took the place of religion for him. He evinced a very original poetic outlook, but kept within the limits of well-accepted prosody. He liked to provoke his audience, but his poetry is never provocative. In other words, it is not easy to situate Graves according to time-honoured categories. He is too much of an individual poet to stand general classification. Yet his poems have a direct appeal to the reading public. He is a poet of unrest.
This volume is of interest for scholars and poetry readers who wish to renew their appreciation of poetry and go beyond nowadays critical standards through a careful reading of the very powerful thought of a major poet.

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"Very valuable for understanding and linking all of Robert Graves’s work." – John W. Presley, Illinois State University
Claude Vigée: Foreword
Introduction: The Poem as the Rhythmical Pattern of the Real Individual
The Poem as Metamorphosis within the Dialectics of Becoming: Graves’ Symbolic Consistency
The White Goddess, or The Poetry of Poetry
Robert Graves: Death and Poetry, History and Myth
Graves’ Poetry, or The Magic of Unrest
“You May Not Believe It, for Hardly Could I”: Robert Graves and the Bible
One Story, One Theme, Two Poets: David Jones and Robert Graves
The Fullness of Time, the Fullness of Language: Modernity and Modernism, Graves and T.S. Eliot
The Poetic Voice in Translation: A Subjective Viewpoint
Conclusion: “He, She; We, They; They, Each and It – Of Finite Omnipresence”: Robert Graves’ Poetry of Love and Hope
Appendix: Des “Blés Moissonnés” au “Temps Vécu”: French Literature and the Great War
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