In December 1968, Graves received the Queen’s Medal for Poetry. It was about this time that he suffered memory lapses and, as a seasoned poet who knew ‘too much of the craft of poetry’, he became highly critical about the quality of poetry produced.
This did not stop him from starting a new translation of the ‘Song of Solomon’, which gave him immense enjoyment. Based on readings in the Codex Siniaticus, the earliest surviving Greek manuscript, he used the traditional form of the Hebrew pastoral drama performed at marriage festivals.
Begun in January 1970, The Song of Songs was published in New York in 1973. It was illustrated by Hans Erni, whom Graves regarded as ‘gifted’.