Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Tuesday Poem: "It Was All Very Tidy" by Robert Graves

When I reached his place,
The grass was smooth,
The wind was delicate,
The wit well timed,
The limbs well formed,
The pictures straight on the wall:
It was all very tidy.

He was cancelling out
The last row of figures,
He had his beard tied up in ribbons,
There was no dust on his shoe,
Everyone nodded:
It was all very tidy.

Music was not playing,
There were no sudden noises,
The sun shone blandly,
The clock ticked:
It was all very tidy.

‘Apart from and above all this,’
I reassured myself,
‘There is now myself.’
It was all very tidy.

Death did not address me,
He had nearly done:
It was all very tidy.
They asked, did I not think
It was all very tidy?

I could not bring myself
To laugh or untie
His beard’s neat ribbons,
Or jog his elbow,
Or whistle, or sing,

Or make disturbance,
I consented, frozenly,
He was unexceptionable:
It was all very tidy.

by Robert Graves

For more information about Robert Graves, see:

I would like to dedicate this poem to my mother, Joan, who was always very tidy, but no longer has much need for it since other people tidy up for her.

My mother, Joan, with my son and her grandson, Thomas, at Christmas in Oakura, Taranaki, home of the fabulous and much-admired surfer, Paige Hareb.


  1. A lovely dedication to your mother :) The pared back, precise clarity to the poem is overwhelming. Also, the 'beard tied in ribbons' is a fantastic image. Thanks for sharing - I hadn't read this Graves poem before!