Guest poem submitted by Ian Shields :
(Poem #1525) Thief
To the galleys, thief, and sweat your soul out With strong tugging under the curled whips, That there your thievishness may find full play. Whereas, before, you stole rings, flowers and watches, Oaths, jests and proverbs, Yet paid for bed and board like an honest man, This shall be entire thiefdom: you shall steal Sleep from chain-galling, diet from sour crusts, Comradeship from the damned, the ten-year-chained- And, more than this, the excuse for life itself From a craft steered toward battles not your own.
From 'Collected Poems', 1959. This well fits the "poet cranky" theme. Graves, like Patrick O'Kelly (see Poem #266) appears to have been the victim of a thief, dipped his pen in venom, and engaged in a cathartically poetic exercise. It has been said, "a conservative is a liberal who has been mugged". I am a clinical psychologist who deals exclusively with juvenile delinquents (mostly car thieves and burglars) in a clinic for the morally challenged (i.e., the county jail). As such, I cannot indulge myself in angry outbursts against the outrages of my clients; it wouldn't promote good therapeutic rapport. An occasional rant like Graves', however, is good for the psyche and soul. Dr. Ian Shields Ottawa-Carleton Detention Centre