First World War Poetry Digital Archive

The Cottage

THE COTTAGE by ROBERT GRAVES

Here in turn succeed and rule Carter, smith, and village fool, Then again the place is known As tavern, shop, and Sunday-school; Now somehow it's come to me To light the fire and hold the key, Here in Heaven to reign alone.

All the walls are white with lime, Big blue periwinkles climb And kiss the crumbling window-sill; Snug inside I sit and rhyme, Planning poem, book, or fable, At my darling beech-wood table Fresh with bluebells from the hill.

Through the window I can see Rooks above the cherry-tree, Sparrows in the violet bed, Bramble-bush and bumble-bee, And old red bracken smoulders still Among boulders on the hill, Far too bright to seem quite dead.

But old Death, who can't forget, Waits his time and watches yet, Waits and watches by the door. Look, he's got a great new net, And when my fighting starts afresh Stouter cord and smaller mesh Won't be cheated as before.

Nor can kindliness of Spring, Flowers that smile nor birds that sing, Bumble-bee nor butterfly, Nor grassy hill nor anything Of magic keep me safe to rhyme In this Heaven beyond my time. No! for Death is waiting by.

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