Verse > Robert Graves > Fairies and Fusiliers
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Robert Graves (1895–1985).  Fairies and Fusiliers.  1918.
 
1. To an Ungentle Critic
 
 
THE GREAT sun sinks behind the town
Through a red mist of Volnay wine….
But what’s the use of setting down
That glorious blaze behind the town?
You’ll only skip the page, you’ll look        5
For newer pictures in this book;
You’ve read of sunsets rich as mine.
 
A fresh wind fills the evening air
With horrid crying of night birds….
But what reads new or curious there        10
When cold winds fly across the air?
You’ll only frown; you’ll turn the page,
But find no glimpse of your “New Age
Of Poetry” in my worn-out words.
 
Must winds that cut like blades of steel        15
And sunsets swimming in Volnay,
The holiest, cruellest pains I feel,
Die stillborn, because old men squeal
For something new: “Write something new:
We’ve read this poem—that one too,        20
And twelve more like ’em yesterday”?
 
No, no! my chicken, I shall scrawl
Just what I fancy as I strike it,
Fairies and Fusiliers, and all
Old broken knock-kneed thought will crawl        25
Across my verse in the classic way.
And, sir, be careful what you say;
There are old-fashioned folk still like it.
 

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