The house of Robert Graves
They say that once in a while you will read a book that changes your life. A story of DH Lawrence’s obsession with the inspirational light of the Mediterranean read while I soaked up the sun on the Amalfi Coast last summer came very close (Lady Chatterley’s Villa by Richard Owen). After all, I surely followed his mantra in moving to the Mediterranean. But more powerful still was The White Goddess: An Encounter by Simon Gough.
Telling the real life story of his time with great uncle Robert Graves on the island of Mallorca, it was a story which more than inspired me to move to the Balearic paradise in which I now find myself; it injected my very heart with a passion for the island which formed the genesis of the life I now live; it transported me to a golden era in a utopian island and made me deeply conscious of the life and work of Robert Graves, the English writer and poet who probably did more for Mallorca than any other Englishman before or since when he moved to Deia in the 40s.
The house of Robert Graves
A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to visit the house of Robert Graves and his family just outside my beloved Tramuntana village of Deia. Replicating exactly how the house would have been in Robert’s day as brought to life again with the help of his son, William Graves, my visit to the house had the power to bring the book I had so admired fully to life. From the glasses laid nonchalantly on the poet’s desk, to the garlic hung anticipating a feast in the little sun-drenched kitchen, the house was every inch the familial idyll I head read about.
…and the gardens he so loved
Only the now busier road alongside the house had the power to transport me back to reality. For no more does the family donkey pass sleepily along its dusty path. But that brief interruption asides, with its garden still abundant and the stunning coastal views ever present, Robert Graves house at Deia remains every inch the paradise which drew him to remain on the island and in his house for the remaining decades of his life, and which inspired him to write his life’s best work. I can only hope that Mallorca will continue to inspire me to my greatest work. In the meantime I plan to reopen the pages of Simon Gough’s stunning novel, to relive the idyll which brought me to Mallorca.
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