The White Goddess: An Encounter

The White Goddess: An Encounter, author Simon Gough Click here to order your copy of The White Goddess: An Encounter,
by Simon Gough

When 10-year-old Simon Gough went to Majorca in 1953 he thought he had landed in paradise. Far from the misery of his English boarding school and his parent’s divorce, he fell in love – with the tiny village of Deya, with his wild cousin Juan and most of all with his beloved ''Grand-Uncle'' Robert Graves.
When he returned in 1960, paradise had been overrun by beatniks and marijuana - and Simon liked it all the more. But soon he fell for the enchanting Margot Callas, Robert Graves" muse. He found himself entangled in a web of lies and deceit and playing a game whose rules he didn’t understand. The repercussions would haunt him for the rest of his life.

(EXERPT. Deya, Majorca, 1959. Characters: Robert Graves, 54, poet; Simon Gough, 17, his great-nephew, and Margot Callas, Robert’s muse, with whom Simon is falling in love. Returning to Canellun from a late-night party in the village, Simon and Margot see that Robert’s study light is still on: )

"Robert said to go and see him if he was still awake - "

Margot shrugged lightly. "Fine with me - "

Revelling in this renewed lease of her, I led the way up by the drive.

"Leave the talking to me, all right?" Margot murmured as we crossed the terrace to the side door of his study. Without even knocking, she opened the door and led the way in.

Robert looked up from his work, his face suddenly incandescent with pleasure. "How nice!" he exclaimed. "My two favourite people - after Beryl and the children, of course - ! How was your party?"

"Fine," said Margot casually, "But then Mazzini and that lot arrived, and we left. Simon knocked him down - "

"Accidentally-on-purpose, " I interrupted. My actions hadn’t been exactly courageous.

"Good for you!" Robert burst out. "He’s a dreadful man - dope-pedlar, thief - "

"What are you working on?" asked Margot, distracting him.

"Another poem - for you - " He handed it to her. "I’ve been trying to get shot of it for days, but it’s still not cooked. Or is it? You be the judge."

As Margot began to read, my eye fell on the short, haunting poem I’d read earlier. I re-read it, learning it instantly by heart.

"Were there any drugs at the party?" he asked me casually. My heart missed a beat.

"Too dark," cut in Margot. She was frowning down at the poem. "Is this a threat?" she asked.

"No! God, no!" Almost in panic he reached for a cigar and lit it. "No, there’s a caveat - you can see! No, the thing is, it came out of a moment between us - a difficult one; nothing to do with now… you only have to smile, you know that! I was simply acknowledging that moment. It’s my job, after all," he laughed uneasily, "as your poet laureate. It’s my duty to record things, to warn - oh, don’t be cross - it’s so nice to see you smiling again - "

"I still think it should go back in the oven," said Margot, leaning over the desk and dropping the poem in front of him, her hair briefly touching his face. I breathed in sharply, in spite of myself.

Robert pulled a face at me. "Tant pis, I suppose…" he squirmed restlessly in his chair.

"I must go," she said. "I have to be up early - "

"Oh, don’t go," he said plaintively, "I’ll think it’s my fault - "

"I’ll walk you to the gate at least," I offered, desperate for a last moment of her.

Robert shrugged helplessly. "Well, goodnight, then, since you choose to leave me. I’ll keep going for a bit - turn up the oven, open the flue - try a new draught - " he laughed at his own pun.

Margot kissed him briefly and made for the door.

"Oh, and darling - "Robert called after her, "No threat intended, truly!"

She threw him a dazzling smile. "None taken!" And she was gone.

I caught up with her at the bottom of the drive and unbolted the gate again. "Are you sure you don’t want me to walk you home?" I asked as she slipped through.

She turned back to me with a smile that Robert would have killed for. "I’m sure."

"Well, goodnight, then," I said awkwardly, leaning over the gate to kiss her cheek. But in my awkwardness I misjudged the movement of her head towards me, and found my lips accidentally pressed against hers. I drew back, as though stung. "I’m so sorry - !"

She looked surprised. With a quiet, low laugh, she leaned over the gate and pressed her lips on mine, neither politely nor lingeringly, but unforgettably.

"So sorry - !" she murmured, and walked away.


Are you shaken, are you stirred
By a whisper of love?
Spell-bound to a word
Does time cease to move,
Till her calm grey eye
Expands to a sky
And the clouds of her hair
Like storms go by?