Friday, May 18, 2007

This morning's breakfast browse

Revelling in the fact that this is the first morning of the week when I haven't had to plunge into the heaving human sea of rush-hour commuters (yes, I know, many of you have to do it every day - I don't know how you survive; it's driving me mad!), I've been indulging in a 'lazy weekend' ritual of a lie-in, an unhurried breakfast, and 20 minutes' poetry reading to start the day.

I just happened on this piece by Robert Graves. I don't remember reading it before. I never cease to be amazed by Graves - he's so diverse in his obvservations, has so many good things to say. This is a wonderful evocation of the sense of detachment, of alienation that we feel in modern society; and, of course, it chimes particularly with my experience this week of having to move among the faceless hordes on the subway every day.

On Dwelling

Courtesies of good-morning and good-evening
From rustic lips fail as the town encroaches:
Soon nothing passes but the cold quick stare
Of eyes that see ghosts, yet too many to fear.

Here I too walk, silent myself, in wonder
At a town not mine though plainly coextensive
With mine, even in days coincident:
In mine I dwell, in theirs like them I haunt.

And the green country, should I turn again there?
My bumpkin neighbours loom even ghostlier:
Like trees they murmur or like blackbirds sing
Courtesies of good-morning or good-evening.

Robert Graves (1895-1985)

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