First World War Poetry Digital Archive

Youth And Folly

YOUTH AND FOLLY by ROBERT GRAVES

('Life is a very awful thing! You young fellows are too busy being jolly to realize the folly of your lives.' ---A Charterhouse Sermon)

In Chapel often when I bawl The hymns, to show I'm musical, With bright eye and cheery voice Bidding Christian folk rejoice, Shame be it said, I've not a thought Of the One Being whom I ought To worship: with unwitting roar Other godheads I adore. I celebrate the Gods of Mirth And Love and Youth and Springing Earth, Bacchus, beautiful, divine, Gulping down his heady wine, Dear Pan piping in his hollow, Fiery-headed King Apollo And rugged Atlas all aloof Holding up the purple roof. I have often felt and sung, 'It's a good thing to be young: Though the preacher says it's folly, Is it foolish to be jolly?' I have often prayed in fear, 'Let me never grow austere; Let me never think, I pray, Too much about Judgment Day; Never, never feel in Spring, Life's a very awful thing!' Then I realize and start
And curse my arrogant young heart, Bind it over to confess
Its horrible ungodliness,
Set myself penances, and sigh That I was born in sin, and try
To find the whole world vanity.

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