GRAVES, ROBERT (1895-1985)
Lot 182
GRAVES, ROBERT (1895-1985) AUTOGRAPH MANUSCRIPT OF AN EARLY VERSION OF HIS FIRST WORLD WAR POEM 'NOT DEAD', [1916]
Sold for £6,250 (US$ 9,780) inc. premium

Lot Details
GRAVES, ROBERT (1895-1985)
AUTOGRAPH MANUSCRIPT OF AN EARLY VERSION OF HIS FIRST WORLD WAR POEM 'NOT DEAD', in pencil, 1 page, slight creases, 12mo [1916]

Walking thro' trees to cool my heart & pain
I know that David's with me here again.
All that is simple happy strong, he is.
Wood burns with pleasant smoke
Rising in soft curls so I think of his...

David Thomas, Lieutenant in the 1st Battalion Royal Welch Fusiliers and a close friend of Robert Graves and Siegfried Sassoon, is the David of the title of the book, Goliath and David [1917], in which the poem was first published, and the person about whom the poem 'Not Dead' was written. According to Graves, the three of them 'always went about together'. Graves wrote about Thomas's death (which occurred on 18 March 1916) in Good-Bye to All That (pp. 247-250) and stated that 'I felt David's death worse than any other since I had been in France', and it was not perhaps until June that he came to write 'Not Dead' which he read to Sassoon in August.

David Thomas is also Dick Tiltwood in Sassoon's and Graves's poems 'D.C.T., killed at Fricourt, March 1916', 'A Subaltern', 'The Last Meeting' and 'A Letter Home' all refer to him. Sassoon wrote of Thomas in Fox-Hunting Man: 'His was the bright countenance of truth; ignorant and undoubting; incapable of concealment but strong in reticence and modesty. In fact, he was as good as gold, and everyone knew it as soon as they knew him.' Thomas's death was the event that brought home to Sassoon the personal nature of war and began his denunciation of the machine of war.

The line order and one line of the text of 'Not Dead' differ in this manuscript from the printed version. Sassoon, who supervised Graves's poetry at this time, and the text of Goliath and David in particular, was a close friend of Sydney Cockerell, to whom this manuscript at one time belonged. It was subsequently owned by Anthony Hobson.

Goliath and David was privately printed for Graves in an edition of 200 copies; the present manuscript was enclosed in Graves's presentation copy to Sydney Cockerell (not present).

PROVENANCE: Sydney Cockerell (presented by Graves); Bertram Rota; Anthony Hobson.

REFERENCES: Robert Graves, Good-Bye to All That, 1929; Siegfried Sassoon, Memoirs of a Fox-Hunting Man, 1929.
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