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Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Fine young men

Tuesday, December 18th., Yacht Club, London.

To lunch at the Reform Club, where I joined Robert Ross who had two young poets, Robert Graves and Philip ---- (I forget his name and am not even sure if he is a poet). I was very pleased with both these youths. Lately I am more and more struck by the certainty, strength, and unconscious self-confidence of young men, so different from my middle-aged uncertainty and also my lack of physical confidence in my own body.

On July 24, 1895, Robert Graves was born in Wimbledon, near London. His father, Alfred Perceval Graves, was a Gaelic scholar and minor Irish poet. His mother, Amalie von Ranke Graves, was a relation of Leopold von Ranke, one of the founding fathers of modern historical studies. One of ten children, Robert was greatly influenced by his mother's puritanical beliefs and his father's love of Celtic poetry and myth. As a young man, he was more interested in boxing and mountain climbing than studying, although poetry later sustained him through a turbulent adolescence. In 1913 Graves won a scholarship to continue his studies at St. John's College, Oxford, but in August 1914 he enlisted as a junior officer in the Royal Welch Fusiliers. He fought in the Battle of Loos and was injured in the Somme offensive in 1916. While convalescing, he published his first collection of poetry, Over the Brazier. By 1917, though still an active serviceman, Graves had published three volumes. In 1918, he spent a year in the trenches, where he was again severely wounded.

In the afternoon two and three quarter hours hard, in which I wrote 1,200 words of "The Pretty Lady".

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