The Robert Graves Review
ONLINE JOURNAL OF THE ROBERT GRAVES SOCIETY
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Poetry

Three Poems

Dunstan Ward

A RADIANT CERTITUDE

in memory of Anne Mounic

It was Robert Graves who brought us together.

You devoted your thesis to Graves’s poetry,

which I was co-editing with his widow;

we shared a reading at the Club des Poètes.

Until death ended our thirty-year friendship,

you gifted me each new poetic opus:

translations and studies of other poets,

your own verse and prose, mythic, philosophic.

You published a poem of mine in your journal

(we almost quarrelled about the French text).

It unlocked a door. I was nearing seventy;

in four years my first collection appeared.

Yours was a Gravesian sense of vocation:

the poet’s art as existential quest.

It illumined you with a radiant certitude

others might envy. You gave it your life.

LASTING

for Nick Carter

Beryl Graves gave me my copy (‘He is the best’)

when what’s ‘still the definitive study’ arrived

at Deià: D. N. G. Carter’s Robert Graves:

The Lasting Poetic Achievement, which proved

a constant guide over the ten years ahead

as Beryl and I found our way together,

volume by volume, through some twelve hundred poems.

I finally tracked down the writer in Trieste,

and lured you to Paris to launch my conference

with ‘The Great War and Graves’s Memory’:

during the coach excursion to the Somme,

in the Bazentin cemetery where Graves was hit

(‘Old Gravy’s got it, all right’) you picked up

this spent cartridge, encrusted with mud and rust.

SHE SINGS THE POET

for April Fredrick

She sings the poet

beyond his grave

from a high stone stage

in sight of the sea.

She becomes one breath,

his and her own,

one voice that cries

love despite reason.

Words of his poem

incandesce in song,

descant above

Deià cicadas.

She improvises

on its seven lines

freely as flame.

She sets us alight.

Now she falls silent,

like those lost lovers

under the olives . . .

We call out delight.

She smiles and bows.

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