Reading Robert Graves’s “Recalling War”: Averting Future Conflict by Memorializing War

Andrea Trocha-Van Nort

Discussions of war are daily fare in classrooms across my institution, and rightly so. Our graduates will leave the US Air Force Academy to face the now-numerous international challenges affecting our national security and the new dangers of the constantly-shifting balance of power throughout the world. Indeed, the immediate consequences of media topics are felt strongly in the service academy classroom. In my department, typically, these modern concerns are approached through what we term “ill-defined problems,” that is to say a poem, a novel, artwork, a photograph, a film, or other unique creation. This year, unsurprisingly, many of these pieces have come from the 100-year-old Great War; World War I has been the focus of sustained study and will continue to hold a privileged place in our discussions as an ethical revisiting through 2018. As a professor, I relate artistic traces of the period with current events in order to open discussion onto ourselves as distant spectators in general, and onto the students as soon-to-be participants. These vestiges expose the conditions of the conflict, which for WWI largely involve the swiftly-advancing technology that lead directly to the hazards of our technologically-advanced wars today.

In this regard, Robert Graves’s works are particularly rich. In an article devoted to Graves’s unpublished “The Patchwork Flag” of 1918, Dominic Hibberd reflects upon the particular nature of Graves’s early works about the war:

There is a common misconception among critics that the “war poets” started as Georgians and soon had all that nonsense knocked out of them. Actually, for Graves, Sassoon and Owen, finding out what war was really like more or less coincided with their discovery of Georgian poetry, and the new style gave them what they needed – a plain, unrhetorical, realistic language in which to express personal, earthy experience. (295)

While the early war poetry offers an intimate realism, the only somewhat “plain” (to use Hibberd’s word) Graves’s “Recalling War” [i] instead reaches rhetorical heights supportive of the immediacy of the content: Graves was looking back from 1938 onto his WWI experiences and the twenty intervening years. Due to this dual focus – looking back on WWI and perceiving what would become WWII – it is especially in “Recalling War” that the distortions of modernism operating in the temporal fissures of his expression attract the highly-rational twenty-first century mind, bringing the content to escape the confines of the poet’s times. First, we will study Graves’s transformation of dismemberment and survivorship in this poem before discussing the impact of his retrospective view in the context of growing contemporary apathy over conflicts past and present. We will close with a discussion of war’s disruptive nature, Graves’s “foundering of sublimities” that brings us to reflect on today’s crises in parallel with the major failing of World War I as foreseen by the poet: the advent of World War II.

Before we look at Graves’s poem, we should plot our own context onto a larger timeline, glancing around ourselves in order to establish markers of where we have been and where we now stand. Here is one image that must be recorded in our survey: a veteran in shorts with prosthetic legs, standing or seated, accompanied or not, blending quietly in with the nervous yet predictable movements of society. Whether one is traveling through a city supported by a VA hospital or simply walking through a middle-America big-box store, the weight of the veteran’s loss sharpens this vision amidst what is otherwise a world of frenetic yet banal activity and interchanges. The viewer ponders, making associative connections to Iraq or Afghanistan, but cannot know. Like the bullet wounds of “Recalling War,” these missing pieces have been “silvered clean” (1), asceptisized by modern medicine that advances to keep an excruciating pace with the damage done by war. Reading Graves brings this phenomenon of implicate comparisons into focus. “The track aches only when the rain reminds” (2): here, Graves speaks of the victim, of the metaphorical “rain” or unpredictable yet unavoidable inducement to return to the impenetrable within one’s memory. [ii] Yet, the “track” of guilt and doubt revives in the modern reader who, safely removed from the trauma, progresses into the terrain of the unknown, the “night-stumbling” of a generation now gazing upon what the nation, stumbling, physically “carved into a hill” (10). Graves’s speaker admonishes veterans for forgetting the death and dismemberment of the early war, where “these twenty years” of reflection and introspection have accustomed them to the symbols of loss – “the leg of wood” or “jointed wooden arm” (3, 4). The image transforms uncomfortably for the modern mind into the sculpted metal and high-performance plastics of twenty-first century prosthetics, with micro-processors receiving nerve impulses and secure interfaces fitting perfectly to the residual limb to make the wearer “forget.” In the context of the poem, the horror of war attenuates in the mind: Graves’s synechdotal “discord of flags” (11) is muted by the twenty-year interval, providing a “nature-look of time” (8) for the survivors. In a focussed analysis of “Recalling War,” Peter Krahé points to the “alienating effect” similar to “the glance back of a traveller in time” (222). For the modern reader, an even more distant traveller than Graves’s speaker, the temporal remoteness between WWI and the conflicts of the early twenty-first century evaporates in the breach of the “alienating effect.”

In “Recalling War,” Graves’s speaker does not linger in his narrative present, the moment generating the speaker’s consternation over the discounting of loss. Time moves anachronistically in the poem, from the effect toward the cause, opening a new aperture on a second focus: the construction of the martial mindset.  It is indeed the latter manner of thinking that would enable “the return of earth to ugly earth” (31). Said otherwise, a mindset of war awarded the healthy bodies of young men to the dank, “ugly” earth. Indeed, before the battles that stole limbs or sight, Graves notes that there was a figurative “fleshing” or movement toward “waiv[ing]” peace-time logic for martial reason: “Our youth became all-flesh and waived the mind” (22), while “we, oppressed, thrust out / Boastful tongue, clenched fist and valiant yard” (15-16). Nationalism made one “boastful” and eager to “clench [one’s] fist”; Graves places the speaker among these with the inclusive “our youth” and “we” (15), who are distinctly categorized as fear’s “fine bed-fellows” (21). Collapsing the image of the sturdy, brave, and resourceful soldier, Graves resurrects the dying and those who accompanied them in their antithetical yet evocative “healthy dying” (20). [iii] His distortion of time allows a repopulating of the battlefield by the lost and the maimed, bringing the reader to construct death in an imaginary warscape, the “premature fate spasms” (20) of the dying through the eyes of those who watched; censure thus comes swiftly for those survivors who have now grown comfortable with their altered bodies. [iv] Today, our current conflicts resurface in the Humanities classroom, as, when we look closely at “Recalling War,” we recognize our own tendency to become comfortable with the infirmities of returning soldiers, thinking of these people as resilient, whole. We, too, prove that “infirmities [can be] out of mode” (18), whether “natural” or not. Reflecting upon a war through its warriors’ lives years later should bring one to pause, yet clearly the lens, blurred by removal and retrospection, brings over-simplification, white-washing and, Graves would argue, willed amnesia. In a thoughtful work on Graves’s pursuit of significance in his writing, Peter L. Sanders points to Graves’s commitment to living and contemplation in the poet’s later work: “Though still conscious of an unlovely world and sensitive to the pain which involvement with that world may demand, Graves commits himself unreservedly to living, indulging only in a brief withdrawal to contemplate the truth he has found” (25). Poetry becomes the occasion for reflection, contemplation, a palpable shudder from the “unlovely world” where truth must be hidden.

Predictably, propaganda and popular sentiment [v] as pendants of any war make a brief appearance in “Recalling War” and are directly comparable to the modern context. “Antiqueness of romance” and “tasty honey oozing from the heart” (23, 24) evoke first the high value placed on the soldier-defender, on his honor and his courage, while the “honey oozing” with its modified meter suggests a miring in sentiments that flow from proper human empathy to an unending obligation to those back home. Krahé posits that the latter sentiments refer to those back home (224), but I would argue that, as we never leave the locus of the young soldiers’ front lines in this stanza, the “tasty honey” – which becomes “tasteless” in the 1940 revision [vi] – is the soldier’s fraudulently-birthed nationalism, a succour assisting him in facing the “lack of meat, fire, wine” (29). In his notes on “The Patchwork Flag,” Graves writes that, “like all war feeling, it was an abnormal effort” (“Notes”); “abnormal” suggests in the context of “Recalling War” that the fleshing, “antiqueness,” and “honey” together create a state of mind that is arduous for the soldier to maintain. Pro-war fervor prior to and during WWI has been well documented; “Recalling War” suggests the length to which this propaganda was successful in sending men to their deaths. This senseless murder was exactly what he had hoped to avoid when composing “Recalling War.” Today, we can consider the names of the operations in the current Afghan and Iraqi conflicts as rhetorically imitative of Graves’s speaker’s forceful value statements, upholding both notions of the courageous herald of justice and provider of the best of humanity: Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom (followed by Operation New Dawn), Operation Inherent Resolve, and Operation Enduring Freedom, now succeeded by Operation Freedom’s Sentinel. Clearly communicating the high-minded though unrealistic warrants of the missions’ claims, these titles furnished military members with an indisputable raison d’être for their presence abroad. These names represent the most powerful and direct form of communication the chiefs of staff will ever share with their members, and as such, they carry great importance. National attitudes, however, are much more difficult to harness and stabilize. Moreover, memoirs and literature produced by those involved present an ambiguous picture of how these missions were carried out. Today, the idealistic nature of our operations – some concluded, some ongoing – seems obvious to my students: what is less evident to them is the response – or not [vii] – that we should prepare to today’s changing international dynamics.

Our current context brings near-daily news of bombings, vicious hunts for women, children, and families across the Middle East, a cancer spreading throughout Africa, north and central. This sense of foreboding figures in “Recalling War,” when Graves recreates the battlefield by distorting a landscape that should be beautiful into something hideous, ominous, invaded by a form of pestilence:

…an infection of the common sky
That sagged ominously upon the earth
Even when the season was the airiest May. (12-14)

A world that has made such strides in human rights and human development since WWI – “airiest May” – should not suffer this singular abomination that is war, yet the “infection of the common sky” has brought mostly, from the general public’s standpoint, apathy and inertia. Krahé determines the line to refer to the outbreak of Spanish Influenza as “a provisional answer in medical terms” to the question posed by Graves in line 10: “what, then, was war?” (222). Then as now, war occludes, disrupts: “sagged” and “ominously” speak directly to my students and other active military members who believe that this “common” celestial vault yokes their futures to the foreign lands of our modern conflicts. Combined with the regrettable ease with which we now welcome wounded warriors back into society – wondering, ready to lay blame on others, yet ready to forget – this wrenching recognition of a shared earth, shared values, and shared loss among military members makes “Recalling War” a dual revisiting of “conclusions” of the anthropological nature of war, as Krahé terms it (220) and a call for the withdrawal of evil forces around the world. Hovering in the breach created by the polysemy of “recall,” my students perceive themselves in an impossible dilemma, horrified at the iniquity of quiet genocides yet recognizing that future military solutions could bring disasters as well. The revulsion over Graves’s overgrown child in the final stanza “felling groves of trees” (41), with his “Machine-guns rattl[ing] toy-like” (43), sobers an already circumspect officer-soldier. [viii] The imminent dangers present in our world today pluralize the grotesque image of the self as perpetrator creates a moral quandary for a service academy cadet, a dilemma worthy of ample reflection. Students question whether our presence can only do harm, yet they also wonder if a more robust foreign policy stance would not deter some of the criminal groups at work today in Africa and the Middle East.

Unsurprisingly, my students recognize that the regularity with which these attacks are taking place carries with it another risk: that of a public inured to the horrors of the present, turned indifferent to the plight of the victim, and basically disengaged on the global front. “Recalling War” reveals the veterans’ need to move forward, leaving the worst memories of The Great War behind them: “The blinded man sees with his ears and hands / As much or more than once with both his eyes” (5-6). Graves deplores the celerity involved in disremembering the horrors of the “war…fought these twenty years ago” (7), a time when “there was a use again for God” (28). Graves recognized in himself this tendency to safeguard the mind from constant horror in Good-bye to All That, as after some time, he “found… no horror in the continual experience of death” (170). This is a human failing, yet one that is questioned by the extreme limits of forgetting. Shalom Goldman has noted Graves’s tendency to “subvert the possibility of consolation by offering the unsuspecting reader alternative outcomes of familiar stories” (35). “Recalling War” is no exception, with a Sassoon-like sarcasm penetrating the seemingly wilful amnesia. His undermining of conventional thought in this context allows the modern reader to see for ourselves how quickly we have forgotten the costs of the conflicts of the aught and present years, our forgetfulness becoming a refusal for introspection now hardened by the steady stream of traumatic international events. Regrettably, many of the horrific attacks against civilians across the globe expose those groups as striving to outdo all others in violence and brutality, all in an aim to gain greater international attention and, as a result, funding or support from more deep-pocketed sponsors of terrorism. Among my students, awareness of these tactics engenders outrage, yet they acknowledge that, in some of these cases, neither diplomatic nor military intervention may make a difference for the better. Time devoted to reflecting upon possible causes and consequences, responses and risks, is well spent; those who will be charged with fighting the next wars should be the ones who have not become inured but rather contemplative, with the terrible costs of war indelible in their minds.

Graves’s abhorrence over his generation’s willful amnesia comes forward in what these early soldiers wished for and fought for in the third stanza, as juxtaposed with the wanton, metamorphic child figure of the final stanza. The soldiers are “Sick with delight / At life’s discovered transitoriness” (20-21), suggesting an ill-derived ecstasy over killing and watching others being killed. The “old importances” for which they are fighting “[come] swimming back –” (24), as these are the very things they cry for in a “word of rage” over the “lack” (29). Graves’s words in this stanza plunge the reader forward. Indeed, the impressive pace at which Graves wrote his works has been noted (Steiner 342), interestingly, here Graves generates a strong sensation of running and gasping through his use of enjambment, irregular meter, and forceful, pregnant dashes. The effect is one of despair and struggle, while the unspeakable is conveyed through what the dashes suggest but also omit. These are the powerful spaces where Graves’s poetry operates most effectively, where the classroom can explore alterity and community through the most basic of human needs. We supplement these moments in war poetry with images from WWI, the devastated cathedrals that, though built over hundreds of years, fell within seconds of enemy bombing. There is no dearth of images of towns, neighborhoods, and fields from WWI that housed Graves’s “ache of wounds beyond all surgeoning” (30). Similarly, photographs of the crumbling architecture of the region reminds us that humans lived here, loved here, and died, with others or alone. Residues of their lives remain – fragments of tiles, a side of a chimney, a building with only three walls, exposing its stripped, uninhabited and now uninhabitable spaces.  Powerful through its breathless pleading, the third stanza of “Recalling War” provides a human face before the summative view taken in the fourth, where the larger losses ricochet throughout the human tapestry.

Graves recognizes that the outrage, the collective injuries, the universal sense of grief, make the formulation of response infinitely more difficult. His stanza four is the most condensed of the five, as well as the shortest, marking a paroxysm of irrecoverable losses.  Opening through anaphora, Graves’s speaker sifts through “ugly earth” to discover the “earth” of human remains as well as remnants of those now-irrecoverable noble human aspirations: “War was return of earth to ugly earth, / War was foundering of sublimities” (31-32). In what are perhaps the most striking lines of the poem, the speaker names the evil, “War,” and suggests the incalculable, unfathomable nature of human loss it generates, on the individual and collective scale. The forfeiture is irremediable, as Graves stresses through “Extinction of each happy art and faith” (33, my emphasis), as it was “art and faith” through which “the world had still kept head in air” (33, 34). Everything admirable, estimable wrought from human endeavor “founder[s]” as if too fragile to survive such mindless brutality. Reading Graves’s words as a response to the foundering of Enlightenment sublimities, Krahé reads “art and faith” as “logic, love, and their propagation” (226). This reading shows the soldier stripping himself of his humanity and hope, “Protesting logic or protesting love” (35), until the “unendurable” (36) arrives, the dismembering of Europe as it had been known, through tenuous regional alliances which opened the door to nationalism and overthrow. Robert Faggin, pointing to Graves’s unique position among writers of his time, notes that he “survive[d] the enigma surrounding his disillusion with the culture that bore him” (8). Graves outlived the malaise of the Lost Generation, recognizing as “anachronistic,” according to Lunn, “the ancient martial distinction between courage and cowardice, between honor and dishonor, upon which normative masculine ideals and the claim to elite social status during the early twentieth century were frequently based” (718). Whether the “sublimities,” “art,” and “faith” reflect Enlightenment idealism or concrete human achievements is indeed inconsequential as, unarguably, “the center cannot hold”: the forces moving Yeats’s disfiguring gyre from “The Second Coming” permeate Graves’s verse, where distortion destabilizes any certitudes or assurances of mankind’s progress toward a better world.

The evil that took root and flourished after the Great War clearly warranted a vigorous response; nonetheless, Graves’s cautionary admonitions in “Recalling War” remind us that only a reasoned approach to bellicose groups can elicit the rational discourse and clairvoyance necessary for an appropriate response, one that averts the danger of becoming oneself the overgrown child of stanza five. This is the sight to be recalled “in elder days / When learnedly the future we devote / To yet more boastful visions of despair” (44-46). Graves derides his generation for “learnedly” bringing the world “boastful visions of despair,” sensing that nationalism again appealed to them. Twenty-first-century hindsight, of course, removes the haze of unknowing from our reading of “Recalling War,” composed in an uncertain context of European appeasement efforts. However, when Graves’s cynicism over disremembering enters contemporary debates, we find ourselves on the 21st-century front lines of a decades-long conflict that has yet to find a conclusion. Clearly, conditions across the Middle East have deteriorated, with civilian casualties rising. Moreover, our new adversaries know exactly how to play value poker with the west, deftly carrying out war crimes intended to incite approbation and to humiliate. In sum, they hope we will take the bait. The current context is thus again vastly different from Third Reich Germany or Fascist Italy, where war crimes were in fact attempts to purge the social strata of undesirable elements and reconfigure the complexities of national politics and intra-national balances of power. In fact, Hitler never counted on the other European countries taking the bait; he had watched the New Turks annihilate up to 1.5 million Armenians without a cry from Europe, and as a result, he knew he could wage a war of domination unimpeded. [ix] The new era, on the other hand, makes of religious fundamentalism a virulent, swiftly-moving fanaticism-cum-fascism destroying the Middle East, while hybrid forms of Russian, Iranian, and Chinese neo-nationalism force an entrenching of alliances not unlike those enmeshed in the conflict of WWI over one hundred years ago. Designed as provocation tactics, the violent militant activity on the part of Islamic State operatives, [x] Russian officers and armaments in eastern Ukraine, or Chinese consolidation of forces in the East China Sea [xi] must be read as such. These scenarios reflect the true war game: in the modern world, it isn’t about who has the most advanced army or air power, but rather about how militaristic affronts can best be managed, on the ground and on the internet. Responses must be measured, dispassionate, and unambiguous, which is one of the most difficult lessons to teach a generation that has known mostly war during its lifetime. Keeping your sang-froid is essential in winning the new military calculus where self-sabotage and misreading can bring about losses of catastrophic proportions. This isn’t Graves’s world of 1938; nonetheless, the consequences of being involved – or not – are just as worthy of thought.

Thus my students must reflect upon and grapple with the swiftly-degenerating diplomatic relations of our era, recognizing provocations for what they are so that unconstructive actions do not become options. The costs, Graves’s “foundering of sublimities,” should never leave their minds, even as provocation based precisely upon these values continues through Islamic State’s destruction of history through monuments and works of art, le patrimoine du monde[xii] Graves’s speaker satirizes actions akin to this heedless dismantling of the history of the Middle East with the introduction to the child playing war: “And we recall the merry ways of guns – / Nibbling the walls of factory and church / Like a child, piecrust” (38-40); and, even though the rest of the world is appalled, circumspection and caution must guide our thinking, not outrage, which is the reaction these provocateurs are seeking. My students must understand this fact and mitigate or even abate their initial visceral reactions with the weight and force of the rational. I, Claudius, Graves’s well-known novel written four years before “Recalling War,” is rife with incidents of perceived provocations – intended or not – and violent revenge; stanza five, with its meaningless obliteration, its “Machine-guns rattl[ing] toy-like” and “brave tin-soldiers” (42, 43) is suggestive of this power to inflict harm simply because one can, as a child with “dandelions” (41). The costs of war should be most visible to service academy students, etched deeply in that palimpsest that is the young, aspiring mind. In my classroom, “Recalling War” transcends the major conflicts of Graves’s times in that the dual temporal focus of the poem authors a larger vision of all conflict in the open and reflective mind.

Writing shortly before the breakout of WWII, Robert Graves surely sensed that his words would reverberate beyond that deafeningly pivotal moment. As modern readers entering an age already damaged with conflict, we learn a great deal about the blighted social landscape that enabled the war and the destruction of all that is human or even humane. This knowledge comes from Graves’s works as well as from those by other WWI veterans. As Krahé notes, the child of stanza five that grows into the “elder…we” has “gained in age and learnedness…but not in wisdom” (226). Wisdom is one of the central lessons of the poem, where one learns to avoid the errors of the past. Future blunders will be committed, but at the very least, we may learn to progress from any given point where humankind has remained fixedly entrenched or simply resorted to violence in the past. The lesson to be drawn from the unspeakable, the succumbing to requiting aggression with a more determined, resounding violence, is suggested by Graves’s use of dashes, especially when “the unendurable moment struck – ” (36). For Graves’s speaker as for thinkers today, individual participation in wrongdoing brings with it the consequence of “the duty to run mad” (37). Where we see the smoothed-over damage from war, where we hear more of new atrocities yet feel less, and where we fall prey to the provocations of those who try to draw us into a new conflict, indeed, we must recognize that war fails us as we fail ourselves. As noted by Martin Luther King, Jr., in his Nobel acceptance speech, civilization should preclude violence: “Civilization and violence are antithetical concepts … I still believe that one day mankind will bow before the altars of God and be crowned triumphant over war and bloodshed, and nonviolent redemptive good will proclaim the rule of the land.” Bringing about a better human condition in the 21st century is our greatest goal, and the service academy Humanities classroom contributes to ensuring the perennity of this aim.







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Brown, Stephen I., and Marion I. Walter. “On Robert Graves’s Comment on the Role of Negation.” Leonardo 5.3 (1972): 286. Print.

Faggin, Robert. “Review. Robert Graves: The Assault Heroic, 1895-1926 by Richard Percival Graves.” Errato: The Harvard Book Review 5/6 (Summer/Fall 1987): 8. Print.

Friedman, Bruno. “An Interview with Robert Graves on Science and Society.” Leonardo 4.4 (1971): 371-375. Print.

Goldman, Shalom. “White Goddess, Hebrew Goddess: The Bible, the Jews, and Poetic Myth in the World of Robert Graves.” Modern Judaism 23.1 (2003) 32-50. Print.

Graves, Robert. I, Claudius. New York: Vintage, 1989. Print.

——-. Poems about War. New York: Cassell, 1990. Print.

——-. Good-Bye to All That. New York: Penguin, 2000. Print.

Hibberd, Dominic. “‘The Patchwork Flag’: an Unrecorded Book by Robert Graves.” The Review of English Studies 41.164 (Nov. 1990): 521-532. Print.

Krahé, Peter. “Robert Graves’s Long Weekend under Threat: ‘Recalling War.’” AAA: Arbeiten aus Anglistik und Amerikanistik 24.2 (1999): 217-228. Print.

Lunn, Joe. “Male Identity and Martial Codes of Honor: A Comparison of the War Memoirs of Robert Graves, Ernst Jünger, and Kande Kamara.” The Journal of Military History 69.3 (2005): 713-735. Print.

Mendelsohn, Barak. “Isis’s Gruesome Gamble.” Foreign Affairs August 14, 2014. Web.

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Save our Stones.” The Economist 13 June 2015: 45. Print.

Steiner, George. “The Genius of Robert Graves.” The Kenyon Review 22.3 (1960): 340-365. Print.

Utell, Janine. “Virtue in Scraps, Mysterium in Fragments: Robert Graves, Hugh Kenner, and Ezra Pound.” The Journal of Modern Literature 27.1 (2003): 99-104. Print.

[i] “Recalling War” concludes Grave’s collected Poems about War, pages 78-79

[ii] See Friedman’s interview with Graves on the topic of time, especially the latter’s clarifications on logic, thinking poetically, and time, the latter inspired by Lise La Frenière (372).

[iii] In his autobiography of his WWI experiences, Good-Bye to All That, Graves reminisces on the losses from among his generation from Charterhouse: “At least one in three of my generation at school died; because they all took commissions as soon as they could, most of them in the infantry and Royal Flying Corps. The average life expectancy of an infantry subaltern on the Western Front was, at some stages of the War, only about three months; by which time he had been either wounded or killed. The three lightly wounded returned to the front after a few weeks or months of absence, and again faced the same odds. Flying casualties were even higher. Since the War lasted for four and a half years, it is easy to see why most of the survivors, if not permanently disabled, collected several wound stripes” (59).

[iv] Utell discusses Graves and Rider’s vision of “modernist” vs. “modern” and the importance of a new perspective when writing poetry that was to be more than just “fashionable” (101).

[v] Graves might call this “logic” as opposed to “reasoning” or “poetic thinking” (Friedman 372).

[vi] See Krahé 224 for the emendation.

[vii] Friedman records several striking points made by Graves regarding “not.” He is referring to Laura Rider’s work, but the “not” is useful in examining our present context as well Riding’s modernist poetry (373-374).

[viii] See the appendix of this paper for a student’s outline for an oral explication of the poem. Joshua P. Kisbye visits the topic of the overgrown child in his second section of the outline.

[ix] See his August 22, 1939, statement recorded by the Nuremburg Tribunal as document L-3 or Exhibit USA-28.

[x] Already in August of 2014, Foreign Affairs had noted Islamic State’s tendency toward provocation and “surprising overreach” (Barak Mendelsohn, “Isis’s Gruesome Gamble,” August 14, 2014).

[xi] The Economist notes that China’s military power in some ways now outstrips America’s, with “cyber- and anti-satellite weapons intended to disrupt and blind America’s command-and-control networks” (“A Sharper Blade,” 20), 13 June 2015 issue.

[xiI] The same issue of The Economist notes this mindset of provocation: “IS’s own literature is short of clues. Its monthly magazine, Dabiq, suggests that it may come down to mere gloating. The destruction ‘served to enrage the kuffar (unbelievers),’ declared its March issue, ‘a deed that in itself is beloved to Allah’” (“Save our Stones,” 45). The article develops as well “more mercenary explanations” to include the group’s financial gains from the looting of museums and world heritage sites.