Counting the beats

In this poem, Robert Graves describes the “here and now” mentality of a young couple. Having been part of the First World War, Graves has let this experience influence the atmosphere of the poem, which I consider to be quite ominous.

You, love, and I,
(He whispers) you and I,
And if no more than only you and I
What care you or I ?

Counting the beats,
Counting the slow heart beats,
The bleeding to death of time in slow heart beats,
Wakeful they lie.

Cloudless day,
Night, and a cloudless day,
Yet the huge storm will burst upon their heads one day
From a bitter sky.

Where shall we be,
(She whispers) where shall we be,
When death strikes home, O where then shall we be
Who were you and I ?

Not there but here,
(He whispers) only here,
As we are, here, together, now and here,
Always you and I.

Counting the beats,
Counting the slow heart beats,
The bleeding to death of time in slow heart beats,
Wakeful they lie.

Robert Graves


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