Verse > Robert Graves > Fairies and Fusiliers
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Robert Graves (1895–1985).  Fairies and Fusiliers.  1918.
 
12. A Pinch of Salt
 
 
WHEN a dream is born in you
  With a sudden clamorous pain,
When you know the dream is true
  And lovely, with no flaw nor stain,
O then, be careful, or with sudden clutch        5
You’ll hurt the delicate thing you prize so much.
 
Dreams are like a bird that mocks,
  Flirting the feathers of his tail.
When you seize at the salt-box
  Over the hedge you’ll see him sail.        10
Old birds are neither caught with salt nor chaff:
They watch you from the apple bough and laugh.
 
Poet, never chase the dream.
  Laugh yourself and turn away.
Mask your hunger, let it seem        15
Small matter if he come or stay;
But when he nestles in your hand at last,
Close up your fingers tight and hold him fast.
 

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