Week 321: Mid-winter Waking, by Robert Graves

I thought this poem, one of my favourite Graves love lyrics, would make a suitable piece for the winter solstice.

Mid-Winter Waking

Stirring suddenly from long hibernation,
I knew myself once more a poet
Guarded by timeless principalities
Against the worm of death, this hillside haunting;
And presently dared open both my eyes.

O gracious, lofty, shone against from under,
Back-of-the-mind-far clouds like towers;
And you, sudden warm airs that blow
Before the expected season of new blossom,
While sheep still gnaw at roots and lambless go –

Be witness that on waking, this mid-winter,
I found her hand in mine laid closely
Who shall watch out the Spring with me.
We stared in silence all around us
But found no winter anywhere to see.

Robert Graves

3 thoughts on “Week 321: Mid-winter Waking, by Robert Graves

  1. In the first two verses he seems to be exaggeratedly stretching his poetic wings. “Guarded by timeless principalities /
    Against the worm of death”! “Back-of-the-mind-far clouds”! He’s been in hibernation but he still has all his skills with words?

    • You might like to compare George Herbert’s poems ‘The Flower’: ‘And now in age I bud again,/After so many deaths I live and write;/I once more smell the dew and rain,/And relish versing.’ And I take ‘this hillside haunting’ to be a nod to Keats’s ‘La Belle Dame Sans Merci’, which Graves much admired as a true Muse poem.

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