The following poem is one of Robert Graves's best-known poems -- at any rate, it seems to pop up in anthologies quite a bit. It shows that, when he isn't in one of his moony, mythological, exasperating "White Goddess" moods, Graves is very good indeed.
Love Without Hope
Love without hope, as when the young bird-catcher
Swept off his tall hat to the Squire's own daughter,
So let the imprisoned larks escape and fly
Singing about her head, as she rode by.
Robert Graves, The Welchman's Hose (1925).
For some reason, I thought of "Love Without Hope" in connection with a poem by Joan Barton. But now I wonder if these two poems are in fact "on the same theme." In any event . . .
The short cut home lay through the cemetery --
A suburban shrubbery swallowing up old graves
Iron palings tipped with rusted fleur-de-lys
A sort of cottage orne at the gates,
Ridiculous and sad;
And lost in their laurel groves,
Eaten up by moss,
Stained marble, flaking stone like hatches down,
The unloved unvisited dead:
In the no-man's-land of dusk a short cut home --
The exultant sense of life a trail of fire
Drawn into that tunnel roofed with the cypress smell
And walled with silence adding year to year:
Too far, too far: always
Under the smothering boughs in airless dark
The spirit dwindled, and the fire
Flickered then failed:
Gently implacably from the shade
The indecipherable dedications spoke
'Dear wife' . . . 'devoted mother' . . .
'Beloved child' . . .
Joan Barton, The Mistress and Other Poems (1972).