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Editor's Selection of Poems
The Poet in the Nursery

by Robert Graves

The youngest poet down the shelves was fumbling   
  In a dim library, just behind the chair   
From which the ancient poet was mum-mumbling   
  A song about some Lovers at a Fair,   
Pulling his long white beard and gently grumbling
  That rhymes were beastly things and never there.   
   
And as I groped, the whole time I was thinking   
  About the tragic poem Iíd been writing,...   
An old manís life of beer and whisky drinking,   
  His years of kidnapping and wicked fighting;
And how at last, into a fever sinking,   
  Remorsefully he died, his bedclothes biting.   
   
But suddenly I saw the bright green cover   
  Of a thin pretty book right down below;   
I snatched it up and turned the pages over,
  To find it full of poetry, and so   
Put it down my neck with quick hands like a lover,   
  And turned to watch if the old man saw it go.   
   
The book was full of funny muddling mazes,   
  Each rounded off into a lovely song,
And most extraordinary and monstrous phrases   
  Knotted with rhymes like a slave-driverís thong.   
And metre twisting like a chain of daisies   
  With great big splendid words a sentence long.   
   
I took the book to bed with me and gloated, 
  Learning the lines that seemed to sound most grand;   
So soon the pretty emerald green was coated   
  With jam and greasy marks from my hot hand,   
While round the nursery for long months there floated   
  Wonderful words no one could understand.
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