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
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
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
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,
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
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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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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"To an Ungentle Critic" Poetry.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2019. Web. 5 Dec. 2019. <https://www.poetry.net/poem/31210/to-an-ungentle-critic>.

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