Careers

Father is quite the greatest poet
    That ever lived anywhere.
You say you’re going to write great music—
    I chose that first: it’s unfair.
Besides, now I can’t be the greatest painter and
        do Christ and angels, or lovely pears
        and apples and grapes on a green dish,
        or storms at sea, or anything lovely,
Because that’s been taken by Claire.

It’s stupid to be an engine-driver,
    And soldiers are horrible men.
I won’t be a tailor, I won’t be a sailor,
    And gardener’s taken by Ben.
It’s unfair if you say that you’ll write great
        music, you horrid, you unkind (I sim-
        ply loathe you, though you are my
        sister), you beast, cad, coward, cheat,
        bully, liar!
Well? Say what’s left for me then!

But we won’t go to your ugly music.
    (Listen!) Ben will garden and dig,
And Claire will finish her wondrous pictures
    All flaming and splendid and big.
And I’ll be a perfectly marvellous carpenter,
        and I’ll make cupboards and benches
        and tables and ... and baths, and
        nice wooden boxes for studs and
        money,
And you’ll be jealous, you pig!

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Robert Graves

Robert von Ranke Graves was an English poet, scholar/translator/writer of antiquity specializing in Classical Greece and Rome, novelist and soldier in World War One. more…

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"Careers" Poetry.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2020. Web. 25 May 2020. <https://www.poetry.net/poem/31107/careers>.

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