A riddle inside a mystery wrapped in a box

There are poems that are arcane as the most eccentric University Professors, and poems that are as clear as the light of day… The difficult thing about writing love poetry especially, as many of us have found out to our cost, is that the most sincere exhortations don’t always work. Superlatives may sound clichéd, while clever conceits may simply fall flat.

What I like about Robert Graves’s poems is his literalism, which you could say spoils many of his love poems. But look carefully again and the literalism suggests much more.

She tells her love” is almost entirely devoid of imagery. At first glance, one is left with a dry taste in one’s mouth. 36 compacted words and not a single outright proclamation of affection. Hardly inspiring of love!

But I think that just as light is the best foil for the dark, so is intimate love sharply and effectively conveyed through a surface of drowsy, half-whispered words (preferably at 3am). Just one enigma about Robert Grave’s piece: What is she whispering?

She tells her love while half asleep,

In the dark hours,

With half-words whispered low

As Earth stirs in her winter sleep

And puts out grass and flowers

Despite the snow,

Despite the falling snow.

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4 Responses to “A riddle inside a mystery wrapped in a box”

  1. ‘Just one enigma about Robert Grave’s piece: What is she whispering?’

    Considering that it’s a chilly winter, she’s probably whispering, “stop stealing the blanket lah.”

  2. You’re such a romantic.

  3. And this guy is a poet, u say? Hah. Actually, it’s interesting how’s it’s pretty ’emo’ despite a B-grade lack of imagery.
    On a random note, remember a certain lecturer once saying, “It’s okay? ‘Okay’ should be written on your grave, young man!”

  4. hahahaha! How could I forget it? Eugene…Eugene… (and I imagine Dr. Dawson’s piercing blue eyes at you…brrr)

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