MAY 1937

Graves begins May with "The Wretch": "eight drafts - two days, 12 lines." He will produce subsequent drafts of the poem as the month progresses, and seems pleased with it. The new poetry collection is also taking shape: Graves begins writing the foreword and starts playing with the order of poems. He also writes drafts of several new poems: "Smoke," (first drafted in April) "The Stranger," "The Last March,"1, "Or To Perish Before Day," and "Leaving the Rest Unsaid," which he intends to include as the last poem in the collection. He also drafts "Poets."
Graves and Riding continue to work on The Kind Ghost (later The Swiss Ghost); Graves writes to the end of Chapter 6, and Riding is not far behind reading the drafts. Rumours about the status of the Claudius film continue to contradict themselves, and the future of the production looks rather grim. But A Trojan Ending receives several more good reviews, and the first review of Honor Wyatt's The Heathen is a surprisingly positive one in the Times Literary Supplement.
Riding writes her own poetry this month as well, including "The Victory," and "UnPentateuchal Genesis." At the same time, she continues editorial work on Schools (despite an earlier plan to postpone work on the project) and Norman Cameron's Rimbaud. She also sends a letter to the Spectator in response to Dorothy Sayers' article on "Letter on International Affairs"; in her letter, Riding demands an apology for infringement of copyright.
As the weather improves, the tone of the diary lightens, although low-pressure weather systems and heavy spring rains also result in frequent headaches for both Graves and Riding. But despite disheartening updates from Spain - Gelat is still in prison and the political conflict is far from over - most entries include some note about the warmer weather and Graves' delight in the natural world. Long walks become longer and more frequent, and often include Riding and Karl. Graves loses weight and feels generally healthier, despite such minor irritations as a bad toothache and the re-emergence of a boil that had plagued him in previous months.
Graves and Riding give notice that they will be leaving the house in Lugano on 1 June. Harry Kemp and Alix Eierman have found them a house in Ewhurst in Surrey for the summer months. Politics and world events take a back seat to domestic activity and the upcoming move back to England. The Hindenberg explodes and the German and Italian attacks on Spain worsen. But the diary chronicles in more detail the return of Schwarz and Strenge from abroad, bearing gifts; Riding's unsettling interaction with Maisie Somerville, which threatens to destroy the friendship between the two women; Karl's expired passport; and Graves' growing sense of distance from his surroundings: "Lugano is already a pleasant memory to Laura & me."
There is one enclosure this month: the envelope of a letter from, or forwarded by? Juan Vives in Rennes.

Editorial Notes

1Graves calls this the "resuscitated" poem - is it the same as "Moments in Never" that he is trying to retrieve from memory in April? JS

Hands Referenced

Places Mentioned

  • Lugano

    Lugano, Switzerland
    near the Italian border, where RG and LR spent part of 1937 eds.
  • Ewhurst

    Ewhurst, Surrey, England
    Highcroft, the house RG and LR rented with Harry and Alix Kemp between July and November 1937, was located there. eds.
  • Surrey

    Surrey, England
  • Rennes

    Rennes, France
    where Gelat's daughter, Anita, and son-in-law, Juan Vives live; visited by RG and LR et al in 1938 eds.

People Mentioned

  • Robert

    Graves, Robert
    [1st person]. (1895-1985). Poet, novelist, essayist, critic, and author of his diary. eds.
  • Laura

    Riding, Laura
    (1901-91) American poet. Laura Riding (née Reichenthal; then Laura Gottschalk).
  • Norman Cameron

    Cameron, Norman
    Poet. Built Can Torrent in 1932-1933. W.G.; m. to Elfriede, then to Catherine Vandervelde; friend and contributor to LR and RG's work eds.
  • Dorothy Sayers

    Sayers, Dorothy
    (1893-1957) scholar and writer with the Spectator who criticised LR's writing in The World and Ourselves eds.
  • Gelat

    Más, Juan Marroig
    Juan Marroig Mas, called Gelat: Landowner on Deyá and friend of Robert Graves and Laura Riding (L.R. & R.G.'s factotum. W.G.)
  • Karl/Carl

    Goldschmidt, Karl
    Karl Goldschmidt, later Kenneth Gay: Graphic artist, friend and secretary of Robert Graves and Laura Riding since 1934. R. G. spells both as Carl and Karl.
  • Harry Kemp

    Kemp, Harry
    Poet. Met Graves and Riding through James Reeves in August 1936, just after their arrival in England. In their previous correspondence, Riding had been intrigued by his falling-out with Communism. He became associated with their circle, collaborating on various projects. (RPG 248-49)
  • Alix Kemp

    Kemp, Alix
    Married to poet Harry Kemp. The couple shared a house with Graves and Riding in Ewhurst, Surrey (1937). eds (RPG 277); also referred to as Frau Eierman by RG eds. see Diary August 30, 1936
  • Swartz

    Schwarz, Georg
    German Jew. Deyá neighbour. Antique dealer. Lived with Frau Emmy Strenge, his house keeper, in Can Caballo some hundred yards from Canellun. RG and LR translated his "Almost Forgotten Germany." WG
  • Strenge

    Strenge, Frau Emmi
    Schwarz's house keeper and ? mistress. WG
  • Maisie

    Sommerville, Maisie
    Head of BBC Education broadcasting department. Friend of R.G. and L.R. Arranged accomodation for them when they returned to London as exiles. W.G., eds.
  • Juan

    Vives, Juan
    The Doctor's brother. Married to Gelat's daughter. Lived in Rennes, France. WG
  • Graves, William
    Son of Robert and Beryl Graves. Helped to identify names, places and titles in Deya (1935-1936) and with translations and other references in three ways. He left an annotated printout of the first six months of the diary in the Graves Trust Room at St. John's College, Oxford. He also sent Chris Petter an Excel file with a list identifying names and places, principally in the Majorcan sections of the diary, and a glossary of Spanish terms. Finally he has sent the editors answers in response to reference questions. Notes by William Graves are identified with the initials WG.

Organizations Mentioned

  • Editors

    Editors of the Graves Diary Project.


    • Title: Wretch, The [poem]
    • Title: Modern Poet, The [1938 Anthology ed. Gwendolyn Murphy]
    • Author: Graves, Robert
    • PubPlace: London
    • Publisher: Sidgwick & Jackson, Ltd.
    • BiblScope: 81
    • Idno: b27
    • Date: 1937-05-01
    • Title: Smoke [poem: presumably "The Smoky House". See Complete Poems, Vol. II, pp. 82-83. (Check drafts in Buffalo for this title.) DW]
    • Author: Graves, Robert
    • Title: The Strangers [poem became The Stranger]
    • Title: Collected Poems [1938]
    • Author: Graves, Robert
    • PubPlace: London, Toronto, Melbourne & Sydney
    • Publisher: Cassell and Co. Ltd.
    • Idno: A48
    • Date: 1937-05-09
    • Title: The Last March ["resuscitated" poem] [could be a superseded title on draft(s) of "Defeat of the Rebels" (Check drafts in Buffalo for this title). DW]
    • Author: Graves, Robert
    • Date: 1937-05-13
    • Title: Moments in Never [poem; later Proofs of Royalty; published as Fragment of a Lost Poem]
    • Title: Robert Graves: Complete Poems Vol. II
    • Author: Graves, Robert
    • Editor: Beryl Graves and Dunstan Ward
    • PubPlace: Manchester
    • Publisher: Carcanet Press
    • BiblScope: pp. 86, 313 (note).
    • Date: 1995-1999
    • Title: Or To Perish Before Day [poem]
    • Title: Collected Poems [1938]
    • Author: Graves, Robert
    • PubPlace: London, Toronto, Melbourne & Sydney
    • Publisher: Cassell and Co. Ltd.
    • Idno: A48
    • Date: 1937-05-18
    • Title: Leaving the Rest Unsaid [poem]
    • Title: Collected Poems [1938]
    • Author: Graves, Robert
    • PubPlace: London, Toronto, Melbourne & Sydney
    • Publisher: Cassell and Co. Ltd
    • Idno: A48
    • Date: 1937-05-23
    • Title: The Poets [poem]
    • Title: Collected Poems (1938)
    • Author: Graves, Robert
    • PubPlace: London, Toronto, Melbourne & Sydney
    • Publisher: Cassell and Company Limited
    • Idno: A48
    • Date: 1938-11
    • Title: The Swiss Ghost [formerly The Kind Ghost] [novel]
    • Author: Graves, Robert/ Riding, Laura
    • Date: 1937-04-22
    • Title: Claudius [the film: based on I, Claudius, directed by Alexander Korda, starring Charles Laughton. It was never completed.]
    • Title: Trojan Ending, A [novel]
    • Author: Riding, Laura
    • PubPlace: Deyá & London
    • Publisher: Seizin & Constable
    • Date: 1937
    • Title: The Heathen
    • Author: Wyatt, Honor
    • Editor: Riding, Laura
    • PubPlace: New York
    • Publisher: Random House
    • Date: 1937
    • Title: Times Literary Supplement
    • PubPlace: London
    • Publisher: Times London
    • Date: 1902-1968
    • Title: Victory [poem] [Presumably "Defeat of the Rebels". (Check drafts in Buffalo for this title.) DW]
    • Title: Collected Poems (1938)
    • Author: Graves, Robert
    • PubPlace: London, Toronto, Melbourne & Sydney
    • Publisher: Cassell and Co. Ltd.
    • Date: 1938-11
    • Title: Schools [an international survey of education]
    • Author: Graves, Robert; Riding, Laura
    • Editor: Riding, Laura
    • Title: Translation [prose: unpublished?]
    • Author: Graves, Robert, Riding Laura
    • Date: 1936-02
    • Title: Spectator
    • PubPlace: London
    • Publisher: F.C. Westley
    • Date: 1828-
    • Title: Letter on International Affairs
    • Author: Riding, Laura
    • PubPlace: Chatto & Windus
    • Publisher: London
    • BiblScope: 15-19
    • Idno: A36
    • Date: 1938