Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Robert Graves

robert graves

The Devil’s Advice to Storytellers 

 Lest men suspect your tale to be untrue, 
Keep probability – some say – in view. 
But my advice to story-tellers is: 
Weigh out no gross of probabilities, 
Nor yet make diligent transcriptions of 
Known instances of virtue, crime or love. 
To forge a picture that will pass for true, 
Do conscientiously what liars do – 
Born liars, not the lesser sort that raid 
The mouths of others for their stock-in-trade: 
Assemble, first, all casual bits and scraps 
That may shake down into a world perhaps; 
People this world, by chance created so, 
With random persons whom you do not know – 
The teashop sort, or travellers in a train 
Seen once, guessed idly at, not seen again; 
Let the erratic course they steer surprise 
Their own and your own and your readers’ eyes; 
Sigh then, or frown, but leave (as in despair) 
Motive and end and moral in the air; 
Nice contradiction between fact and fact 
Will make the whole read human and exact. 
                                      —Robert Graves

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