Thursday, November 15, 2007

unannounced bile heaping on Robert Graves

The poet and literary writer, author of "The White Goddess", which has nothing to do with skin but, well what it's about is what this entry is about. The thing is about a supposed goddess cult in pre-Christian Britain that's secretly recorded through coded poetry. What gets me is Graves' utter disconnection from the greater tradition of poetry in general, making you grateful that the modernists completely destroyed the kind of poetry Graves wrote.

I'm thinking in particular of a passage from the beginning of the book where Graves gives a sort of definition of the "White Goddess". He basically says this (paraphrasing) "When you read real poetry and a shiver runs down your spine you've felt the White Goddess' presence." Oh really? So when I read poems from Baudelaire's "Paris Spleen" or "The Flowers of Evil" dealing with death, decay, depression, and eroticism that's strangely morbid, a tingle is supposed to go up my spine...and the White Goddess is supposed to magically visit me?

Graves lived in a world where the only 'poetry' was vapid late 19th century English Romantic nature poetry. Obviously he didn't care about the countless examples of more realistic poetry that are out there, but stuck to poems about deer giving out mating calls in the woods during spring.

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