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The Boy In Church

Robert Graves 1895 (Wimbledon) – 1985 (Deià)

'Gabble-gabble . . . brethren . . . gabble-gabble!'
My window glimpses larch and heather.
I hardly hear the tuneful babble,
Not knowing nor much caring whether
The text is praise or exhortation,
Prayer of thanksgiving or damnation.

Outside it blows wetter and wetter,
The tossing trees never stay still;
I shift my elbows to catch better
The full round sweep of heathered hill.
The tortured copse bends to and fro
In silenece like a shadow-show.

The parson's voice runs like a river
Over smooth rocks. I like this church.
The pews are staid, they never shiver,
They never bend or sway or lurch.
'Prayer,' says the kind voice, 'is a chain
That draws down Grace from Heaven again.'

I add the hymns up over and over
Until there's not the least mistake.
Seven-seventy-one. (Look! there's a plover!
It's gone!) Who's that Saint by the Lake?
The red light from his mantle passes
Across the broad memorial brasses.

It's pleasant here for dreams and thinking.
Lolling and letting reason nod,
With ugly, serious people linking
Prayer-chains for a forgiving God.
But a dumb blast sets the trees swaying
WIth furious zeal like madmen praying.

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Submitted on May 13, 2011

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Robert Graves

Robert von Ranke Graves was an English poet, scholar/translator/writer of antiquity specializing in Classical Greece and Rome, novelist and soldier in World War One. more…

All Robert Graves poems | Robert Graves Books

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