Robert Graves

Robert Graves was a commissioned officer in the Royal Welch Fusiliers, as was fellow poet, Siegfried Sassoon. It would be an understatement to say that Graves was a prolific writer. During the war alone he penned three volumes of poetry. Though a fine poet, Graves is best known for his autobiography, Goodbye to All That, his biography of T.E. Lawrence, and the historical novel, I Claudius

The Patchwork Quilt”

Here is this patchwork quilt I've made
Of patterned silks and old brocade,
Small faded rags in memory rich
Sewn each to each with feather stitch,
But if you stare aghast perhaps
At certain muddied khaki scraps
Or trophy-fragments of field grey,
Clotted and torn, a grim display
That never decked white sheets before,
Blame my dazed head, blame bloody war.

Reflective Questions: “The Patchwork Quilt”
  1. How does this poem reflect the concept of a patchwork quilt?
  2. What speaks to the richness of the quilt? 
  3. How is the quilt fragile?
  4. What is shocking about the quilt?
  5. What is the significance of the quilt being placed on “white sheets?”
  6. Who is the maker of the quilt? 
  7. How can we refer to a patchwork quilt as being a “memory quilt?” How is the quilt in this poem a type of “memory” quilt?”

"It Was All Very Tidy"

When I reached his place,
The grass was smooth,
The wind was delicate,
The wit well timed,
The limbs well formed,
The pictures straight on the wall:
It was all very tidy.

He was cancelling out
The last row of figures,
He had his beard tied up in ribbons,
There was no dust on his shoe,
Everyone nodded:
It was all very tidy.

Music was not playing,
There were no sudden noises,
The sun shone blandly,
The clock ticked:
It was all very tidy.

‘Apart from and above all this,’
I reassured myself,
‘There is now myself.’
It was all very tidy.

Death did not address me,
He had nearly done:
It was all very tidy.
They asked, did I not think
It was all very tidy?

I could not bring myself
To laugh or untie
His beard’s neat ribbons,
Or jog his elbow,
Or whistle, or sing,

Or make disturbance,
I consented, frozenly,
He was unexceptionable:
It was all very tidy.