I recently came across Robert Graves’ poem ‘O Love in Me’ and was immediately impressed by its beautiful, stark imagery. This poem reminds us that love—that wonderful sun-drenched feeling of happiness and acceptance—is nourished by simple things, but is also stalked at the peripheries by darkness. The apple, perhaps an allusion to the Garden of Eden, reminds us of our fall from the ‘heavenly causeway’. But should we despair and mourn our loss or should we make the most of love while we have it? ‘Be warm, enjoy the season, lift your head’ while you can; let love triumph hate and rejoice in equanimity (‘that shivering glory not to be despised’). The last line is stark and ambiguous, is Graves saying that we are ultimately alone (to be confined to the narrowness of a grave) but without the promise of tranquility? Yet we must remember that all things are impermanent—feelings are fleeting, thoughts transitory. We have this one moment, now, to be happy. So we must take our ‘delight in momentariness,/Walk between dark and dark’ while we may and find glimmers of hope and love where we can.
O Love in Me
O Love, be fed with apples while you may,
And feel the sun and go in royal array,
A smiling innocent on the heavenly causeway.
Though in what listening horror for the cry
That soars in outer blackness dismally,
The dumb blind beast, the paranoiac fury,
Be warm, enjoy the season, lift your head,
Exquisite in the pulse of tainted blood,
That shivering glory not to be despised.
Take your delight in momentariness,
Walk between dark and dark, a shining space
With the grave’s narrowness, though not its peace.