Enclosure – Letter from RG to Richard Church

June 23rd, 1938

I am preparing my Collected Poems for publication in the Autumn with Mssrs [Misters] Cassell, and was going to include a poem called Largesse to the Poor written in 1930, first published in a limited edition To Whom Else? (Seizin Press) in 1931, reprinted in Poems 1930-1933 (Barker). Now I have just for the first time read your Secret Service in Gwendolen Murphy's Modern Poet anthology1 and am so struck by the resemblance of the two that if it should happen that yours was published first I should consider it my duty to suppress mine in favour of yours. That both are irregular blank verse accentuates the points of verbal and metaphorical similarity: the discontented pilgrim getting a room at the guest-house, flinging away the bunch of keys from his pocket to those who are to occupy the places he has left. The solution of the poetic[RG] problem, of course, is different; but though it is perhaps a perfect coincidence, nobody who has read the two poems,[RG] (both of which have circulated widely) [sic: ,] I am afraid)[RG] will, I am afraid, doubt that one of us has drawn from the other. A [sic: ]nd since I do not believe (as do[RG] many poets, W.H.Auden for instance) that poetry is the[RG] communal property of poets to be borrowed without acknowledgements [sic: ,] each from each; I prefer, as I say, to suppress my poem unless it has the priority of publication.
Please regard this asi ×××× [indecipherable] in all friendliness with nothing held back.
Yours sincerely,

Editorial Notes

1Church's poem "Secret Service" appeared on pp. 75-76 of this anthology, published in 1938. eds.

Hands Referenced

    • Annotation: ink correction
    • Character: regular
    • Ink: black

People Mentioned

  • Robert

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

    Church, Richard
    Sir Richard Thomas Church, (1893-1972), British poet and writer eds.
  • Gwendolen Murphy

    Murphy, Gwendolen
    editor of The Modern Poet anthology (1938) eds.
  • Auden

    Auden, W.H.
    British poet (1907-1973). R.G. disliked. eds

Organizations Mentioned

  • Cassell and Company Ltd.

    Publishers of Robert Graves' Collected Poems [1938], and the novel Count Belisarius [1938].
  • Seizin Press

    Founded when Robert Graves and Laura Riding began their partnership in London. R.G. and L.R. continued to operate their own press in Deyá, but stopped printing in 1935. Seizin Press published a number of literary works in conjunction with Constable in London, including the Epilogue series, and other works by Laura Riding and their literary associates. eds
  • Arthur Barker Ltd.

    Barker, Arthur
    The English publisher of I, Claudius and Claudius the God. WG
  • Editors

    Editors of the Graves Diary Project.


    • Title: Collected Poems [1938]
    • Author: Graves, Robert
    • PubPlace: London, Toronto, Melbourne & Sydney
    • Publisher: Cassell and Co. Ltd
    • Idno: A48
    • Date: 1938
    • Title: Largesse to the Poor [poem]
    • Title: To Whom Else?
    • Author: Graves, Robert
    • PubPlace: Deyá
    • Publisher: Seizin Press
    • Idno: A37
    • Date: 1931
    • Title: To Whom Else? [poems]
    • Author: Graves, Robert
    • PubPlace: Deyá, Majorca
    • Publisher: Seizin
    • Idno: A37
    • Date: 1931-07
    • Title: Poems 1930-1933
    • Author: Graves, Robert
    • PubPlace: London
    • Publisher: Arthur Barker Ltd.
    • Idno: A40
    • Date: 1933
    • Title: Modern Poet, The [anthology]
    • Author: Graves, Robert
    • Editor: Murphy, Gwendolen
    • PubPlace: London
    • Publisher: Sidgwick & Jackson, Ltd.
    • BiblScope: poems 78-84, notes 182-3
    • Idno: B27
    • Date: 1938