The Apollo Has Landed (July 20, 1969)


For aeons the goddess
rolled her eye
like Polyphemus*
across infinity's
sky, letting drop
her lid languidly
over each fourth week.
 
Her beauty dismayed
the cavemen
as they crowded
round their cathedral
spires from the sun.
Shuddering with fear
and cold they
understood
the fanning of such
astral lashes
would beat out this
same pitiful flame . . .
especially if they closed their own eyes--
she had also an ugly side.
 
Thief, she stole
her light from day--
though they never could have explained that--
they merely knew
she'd steal theirs too.
 
So they meted out
their tribute
and despite her
absconding ways
she proved constant,
ushering in their plantings and harvests,
welcoming
every offspring,
towing her barge of tides.
She stayed throughout
all floods and famines,
scudded under clouds
and indolent stars,
odd times aberrant and
apocalyptically
hiding. But always
she returned with promise,
sliding her
Mona Lisa gleam
across heaven's dark face.
 
All men craved her.
Hours they stood
on lonely beaches,
sentinels scheming
to master her;
for centuries they prayed
and wrote her lyrics, offering their souls
for consumption: the bond
was symbiotic.
 
And in my lifetime
I have seen men
plunder her;
never will she
be the same.
Rejoicing victory,
the seed of male
was meant for all;
yet she, and she alone
would flower
by metaphor.
 
Now men have held her
in their hands and
she has turned to stone.
 
Eyeless, the cyclops weeps.

N.N.


*Cyclops in THE ODYSSEY

 

****

 
A true poem is necessarily an invocation of the White Goddess, or Muse, the Mother of all Living, the ancient power of fright and lust . . .
 
The White Goddess is anti-domestic; she is the perpetual "other woman", and her part is difficult indeed for a woman of sensibility to play for more than a few years, because the temptation to commit suicide in simple domesticity lurks in every maenad's and muse's heart . . .
 
That is not to say that a woman should refrain from writing poems; only that she should write as a woman, not as if she were an honorary man.


Robert Graves
THE WHITE GODDESS

 
****
 
 
With Words
 
With words I'll bind your heart
Tethered to my love
Strain not wild one
The brain strikes a mighty whip
When passion cries
Whoa
Come, it is time for taming.

P.N.

 
 

A Man Invoking the White Goddess
 
YOU THINK TOO POETICALLY, HE SAID
SHAKING HIS HEAD, COFFEE COLD, UNTOUCHED;
REAL LIFE HAS NOT SUCH BOLD OLYMPIC SHAPE.
 
Desolate Across The Table's Wide Abyss,
Averted Eyes Could Not Yet Retrieve
The Goddess, The Answer Of The Muse.
 
the poet must define man's epic contours
though they seem pale platonic shadows
dim icons cast on cavernous dreary days

N.N.


 
****
 
The Goddess is a lovely, slender woman with a hooked nose, deathly pale face, lips as red as rowan berries, startlingly blue eyes and long fair hair. She will suddenly transform herself into sow, mare, bitch, vixen, she-ass, mermaid or loathsome nag. The Night Mare is one of the cruelest aspects of the White Goddess.


Robert Graves
THE WHITE GODDESS

 
****

 
 
 
Death of a Dog
 
One day while I wrestled with the words of a poem
A dog died and I the would-be poet
Surrendered to the Goddess's seduction
Sounding a death knell for that devoted one.
Could the bewildered eyes of that betrayed beast
Comprehend such duplicity such deceit?
What Belle Dame Sans Merci would ever compel
A poet to place his grace with deathless words:
Though she may walk in beauty like the night--

still

I shudder at such a chill and pitiless Belle!

N.N.
 


 
You Wonder Why I do It
 
Pity not the poet in his garret
For he takes both cure and nourishment
From the myths that he can make or recreate,
Fabrics of his truth with fable interfaced.
He starves not in his apparent state of pathos
Cursed only by his slavery to the Goddess.
Other men may slave unsure shy will guess;
Poets well know their mistress whose embrace

postponeth death.

N.N.


 
Creator Created
 
In the circle that is mine I have fashioned the face of God;
In the confines of my mind
I have built the temple.
In a heap of hoarded words
God comes dressed in my design.

P.N.


 
 
To a Housewife
 
She kept her house so clean and bright,
She slaved throughout the day.
She scrubbed and swept and swept and scrubbed
And worked from May to May.
 
And now her house is standing still,
But in it reigns another,
Who cares not if the dust is deep
And thinks not of the other.
 
The house remembers not her love,
Her husband has forgotten
And now she lies but in the past
And dust from dust's begotten.

P.N.


 
 
Sphinx
 
In the blue tent beyond the hill,
Lies the watcher of my will.
There I hide my fears serene,
There I worship a silent queen--
Mistress of my mind,
Keeper of my fright.

P.N.


 
 
Frantic Sonnet
 
Frantic poems like sprayed cockroaches
Emerge from the fissures of my Brain:
 
Bugs obsesses with airing themselves
Scurrying forth to escape poison fumes
Insidiously creeping
Into former nooks of respite
Now knowing no rest, no peace
But this ceaseless pencil scratching.
And still these insect images--
Primitive, atavistic
Intruders of worthy parlors--
Serve to rescue me, revive me:
 
Grubs and maggots can sustain
With their vile uncouth proteins.

N.N.

 

 

White Goddess as Witch