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Robert Graves (1895–1985). Fairies and Fusiliers. 1918.

27. Careers

FATHER is quite the greatest poet

That ever lived anywhere.

You say you’re going to write great music—

I chose that first: it’s unfair.

Besides, now I can’t be the greatest painter and

do Christ and angels, or lovely pears

and apples and grapes on a green dish,

or storms at sea, or anything lovely,

Because that’s been taken by Claire.

It’s stupid to be an engine-driver,

And soldiers are horrible men.

I won’t be a tailor, I won’t be a sailor,

And gardener’s taken by Ben.

It’s unfair if you say that you’ll write great

music, you horrid, you unkind (I sim-

ply loathe you, though you are my

sister), you beast, cad, coward, cheat,

bully, liar!

Well? Say what’s left for me then!

But we won’t go to your ugly music.

(Listen!) Ben will garden and dig,

And Claire will finish her wondrous pictures

All flaming and splendid and big.

And I’ll be a perfectly marvellous carpenter,

and I’ll make cupboards and benches

and tables and … and baths, and

nice wooden boxes for studs and


And you’ll be jealous, you pig!