Voices from the Grave #1: Robert Graves Reading ‘To Juan at the Winter Solstice’

‘To Juan at the Winter Solstice’ from ‘Poems 1938-1945’ (1946).



There is one story and one story only That will prove worth your telling



Voices from the Grave-Some Words of Introduction

Reading is thought of as a silent pursuit, a psychic communion between two intellects and imaginations: those of author and reader. Yet, the space between those points is filled with a cacophony of phantom voices; characters go about their business as they would in the real world: shouting, whispering, crying, laughing. Your voice, too, is heard, as you process your own ideas and opinions. The quiet, firm mastermind behind the subtleties of plot and style is there, guiding everything behind a mask of neutrality: gagged by choice but interacting with everyone, across an expanse of space and time that refuses to be confined.

If you have ever been to a book reading you know what a wonderful experience it is to hear a writer read from one of their works. Maybe their words have been echoing for years in your head, until the only voice associated with them is your own. Hearing them spoken by the person who strung them together in such a serendipitous way may be jarring or amazing, at first, but surely it is always exhilarating. When many of your favorite authors are of the long-dead variety, setting off to the neighborhood Barnes & Noble for a Thursday night listen-and-greet is out of the question.

If we cannot travel back to the 1920s to catch Edna St. Vincent Millay on one of her famous speaking tours, or to the 1960s to hear Sylvia Plath give a radio reading, we can do the next best thing. That realm-of-nearly-all-things-are-possible, the Internet, is accessible with a few clicks of the keyboard. We are going to gather our favorite clips of writers speaking and permanently park them right here, under the auspices of ‘Voices from the Grave’.

First up: Robert Graves.

A Year in Books/Day 9: The Greek Myths: 1

  • Leighton depicts Hermes helping Persephone to ...

    Image via Wikipedia

    Title: The Greek Myths: 1

  • Author: Robert Graves
  • Year Published: First Published 1955/Reprinted 1969 (Penguin Books)
  • Year Purchased: 2009
  • Source: Goodwill
  • About: This detailed and highly readable re-telling of various Greek myths almost reads like a compelling biographical dictionary.
  • Motivation: As a child, I fell in love with Greek mythology. The adventures of the gods and goddesses, and the mortals (un)lucky enough to be consumed by their passions, seemed the natural next step along from fairy tales. Also: Robert Graves. I’m always happy to read anything he wrote. With nearly 150 published texts to his credit, I regularly stumble over ‘new’ works by this long-dead master.
  • Times Read: 1
  • Random Excerpt/Page 131: “Enraged because Zeus had confined their brothers, the Titans, in Tartarus, certain tall and terrible giants, with long locks and beards, and serpent-tails for feet, plotted an assault on Heaven. They had been born from Mother Earth at Thracian Phlegra, twenty-four in number.”
  • Happiness Scale: 10 (for warm, fuzzy childhood memories and because mythology is better than any soap opera or reality program)