Bingo Square Shelfie
Good-Bye to All That is rather a “Boy’s Own” version of, Robert Graves’ (the Irish-British poet) account of his public school and war years – WWI, that is. Schooling started at Charterhouse School and continued at Oxford, and Graves did not enjoy any bit of it. As soon as the War started, Graves signed up, as an officer, and never looked back. War, it turned out, was far more his element.
Graves was one of the several British poets involved in WWI, but unlike most of the others, not only did he survive the whole war, and well on past it, but seemed to thrive in military life. He was certainly in the midst of action, stationed in France, and was severely wounded, shot through the lungs, and actually pronounced dead. His parents received official notice that he was deceased a couple of days before getting the word that he was being returned to England as wounded (causing premature quiet exaltation from some of his relatives, he noted). And soon as he could manage, he was back again.
Graves, a bisexual, had two official wives and one not so official, not to mention numerous affairs and eight children. His account of his first wedding, a rather spur of the moment wartime affair, is a hoot. His bride, an early feminist, has just been made aware of what the marriage vow verbiage actually consists of. But no time to quibble, all the family has shown up and it’s time to be getting on with it. Graves remembers “myself, striding up the red carpet, wearing field-boots, spurs, and sword; Nancy meeting me in a blue-check silk wedding-dress, utterly furious; packed benches on either side of the church, full of relatives; aunts using handkerchiefs; the choir boys out of tune; Nancy savagely muttering the responses, myself shouting them in a parade-ground voice.” Good times.