Orson Welles’ favorite poet: Robert Graves?
To complete the series of poems about Orson Welles I've included two selections from one of Welles favorite poets, Mr. Robert Graves. Both of these poems would seem to fit neatly into the Welles canon, as 1915 is the year of his birth and JONAH obviously needs no explaination, since Melville's MOBY DICK was quite an obssession with Welles.
KENNETH TYNAN: Whom would you choose as a model of the way men ought to behave toward women?
ORSON WELLES: Robert Graves. In other words, total adoration. Mine is less total than it ought to be. I'm crazy about the girls, but I do like to sit around the port with the boys. I recognize in myself that old-fashioned Edwardian tendency--shared by many other societies in other epochs--to let the ladies leave us for a while after dinner, so the men can talk. We'll join them later. I've talked endlessly to women for sexual purposes--years of my life have been given up to it. But women usually depress or dominate a conversation to its detriment--though, of course, there are brilliant and unnerving exceptions. In a sense, every woman is an exception. It's the generality that makes a male chauvinist like me.
I've watched the Seasons passing slow, so slow,
In the fields between La Bassee and Bethune;
Primroses and the first warm day of Spring,
Red poppy floods of June,
August, and yellowing Autumn, so
To Winter nights knee-deep in mud or snow,
And you've been everything.
Dear, you've been everything that I most lack
In these soul-deadening trenches--pictures, books,
Music, the quiet of an English wood,
The narrow, bouldered mountain-track,
The broad, full-bosomed ocean, green and black,
And Peace, and all that's good.
A purple whale
Proudly sweeps his tail
A mile of roaring sea.
"O town of gold,
Of splendour multifold,
Lucre and lust,
Can surely spy
Thy doom of death and dust."
On curving sands
Vengeful Jonah stands.
"Yet forty days,
Then down, down,
Tumbles the town
In flaming ruin ablaze."
With swift lament
Those Ninevites repent.
They cry in tears,
"Our hearts fail!
The whale, the whale!
Our sins prick us like spears."
Jonah is vexed;
He cries, "What next? what next?"
And shakes his fist.
The shame, the pity,
The glorious crash I've missed."
Away goes Jonah grumbling,
Murmuring and mumbling;
Off ploughs the purple whale,
With disappointed tail.
The White Goddess
All saints revile her, and all sober men
Ruled by the God Apollo's golden mean -
In scorn of which we sailed to find her
In distant regions likeliest to hold her
Whom we desired above all things to know,
Sister of the mirage and echo.
It was a virtue not to stay,
To go our headstrong and heroic way
Seeking her out at the volcano's head,
Among pack ice, or where the track had faded
Beyond the cavern of the seven sleepers:
Whose broad high brow was white as any leper's,
Whose eyes were blue, with rowan-berry lips,
With hair curled honey-coloured to white hips.
The sap of Spring in the young wood a-stir
Will celebrate with green the Mother,
And every song-bird shout awhile for her;
But we are gifted, even in November
Rawest of seasons, with so huge a sense
Of her nakedly worn magnificence
We forget cruelty and past betrayal,
Heedless of where the next bright bolt may fall.