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Best Famous Edwin Arlington Robinson Poems

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Written by Edwin Arlington Robinson |


 We told of him as one who should have soared 
And seen for us the devastating light 
Whereof there is not either day or night, 
And shared with us the glamour of the Word 
That fell once upon Amos to record
For men at ease in Zion, when the sight 
Of ills obscured aggrieved him and the might 
Of Hamath was a warning of the Lord.
Assured somehow that he would make us wise, Our pleasure was to wait; and our surprise Was hard when we confessed the dry return Of his regret.
For we were still to learn That earth has not a school where we may go For wisdom, or for more than we may know.

Written by Edwin Arlington Robinson |

Ballad by the Fire

 Slowly I smoke and hug my knee, 
The while a witless masquerade 
Of things that only children see 
Floats in a mist of light and shade: 
They pass, a flimsy cavalcade, 
And with a weak, remindful glow, 
The falling embers break and fade, 
As one by one the phantoms go.
Then, with a melancholy glee To think where once my fancy strayed, I muse on what the years may be Whose coming tales are all unsaid, Till tongs and shovel, snugly laid Within their shadowed niches, grow By grim degrees to pick and spade, As one by one the phantoms go.
But then, what though the mystic Three Around me ply their merry trade? -- And Charon soon may carry me Across the gloomy Stygian glade? -- Be up, my soul! nor be afraid Of what some unborn year may show; But mind your human debts are paid, As one by one the phantoms go.
ENVOY Life is the game that must be played: This truth at least, good friend, we know; So live and laugh, nor be dismayed As one by one the phantoms go.

Written by Edwin Arlington Robinson |

Peace on Earth

 He took a frayed hat from his head, 
And “Peace on Earth” was what he said.
“A morsel out of what you’re worth, And there we have it: Peace on Earth.
Not much, although a little more Than what there was on earth before I’m as you see, I’m Ichabod,— But never mind the ways I’ve trod; I’m sober now, so help me God.
” I could not pass the fellow by.
“Do you believe in God?” said I; “And is there to be Peace on Earth?” “Tonight we celebrate the birth,” He said, “of One who died for men; The Son of God, we say.
What then? Your God, or mine? I’d make you laugh Were I to tell you even half That I have learned of mine today Where yours would hardly seem to stay.
Could He but follow in and out Some anthropoids I know about, The god to whom you may have prayed Might see a world He never made.
” “Your words are flowing full,” said I; “But yet they give me no reply; Your fountain might as well be dry.
” “A wiser One than you, my friend, Would wait and hear me to the end; And for his eyes a light would shine Through this unpleasant shell of mine That in your fancy makes of me A Christmas curiosity.
All right, I might be worse than that; And you might now be lying flat; I might have done it from behind, And taken what there was to find.
Don’t worry, for I’m not that kind.
‘Do I believe in God?’ Is that The price tonight of a new hat? Has he commanded that his name Be written everywhere the same? Have all who live in every place Identified his hidden face? Who knows but he may like as well My story as one you may tell? And if he show me there be Peace On Earth, as there be fields and trees Outside a jail-yard, am I wrong If now I sing him a new song? Your world is in yourself, my friend, For your endurance to the end; And all the Peace there is on Earth Is faith in what your world is worth, And saying, without any lies, Your world could not be otherwise.
” “One might say that and then be shot,” I told him; and he said: “Why not?” I ceased, and gave him rather more Than he was counting of my store.
“And since I have it, thanks to you, Don’t ask me what I mean to do,” Said he.
“Believe that even I Would rather tell the truth than lie— On Christmas Eve.
No matter why.
” His unshaved, educated face, His inextinguishable grace.
And his hard smile, are with me still, Deplore the vision as I will; For whatsoever he be at, So droll a derelict as that Should have at least another hat.

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Written by Edwin Arlington Robinson |

Miniver Cheevy

Miniver Cheevy, child of scorn,
Grew lean while he assailed the seasons;
He wept that he was ever born,
And he had reasons.
Miniver loved the days of old When swords were bright and steeds were prancing; The vision of a warrior bold Would set him dancing.
Miniver sighed for what was not, And dreamed, and rested from his labors; He dreamed of Thebes and Camelot, And Priam's neighbors.
Miniver mourned the ripe renown That made so many a name so fragrant; He mourned Romance, now on the town, And Art, a vagrant.
Miniver loved the Medici, Albeit he had never seen one; He would have sinned incessantly Could he have been one.
Miniver cursed the commonplace And eyed a khaki suit with loathing; He missed the mediæval grace Of iron clothing.
Miniver scorned the gold he sought But sore annoyed was he without it; Miniver thought, and thought, and thought, And thought about it.
Miniver Cheevy, born too late, Scratched his head and kept on thinking; Miniver coughed, and called it fate, And kept on drinking.

Written by Edwin Arlington Robinson |

The Pity of the Leaves

 Vengeful across the cold November moors, 
Loud with ancestral shame there came the bleak 
Sad wind that shrieked, and answered with a shriek, 
Reverberant through lonely corridors.
The old man heard it; and he heard, perforce, Words out of lips that were no more to speak— Words of the past that shook the old man’s cheek Like dead, remembered footsteps on old floors.
And then there were the leaves that plagued him so! The brown, thin leaves that on the stones outside Skipped with a freezing whisper.
Now and then They stopped, and stayed there—just to let him know How dead they were; but if the old man cried, They fluttered off like withered souls of men.

Written by Edwin Arlington Robinson |

Richard Cory

Whenever Richard Cory went down town,
We people on the pavement looked at him:
He was a gentleman from sole to crown,
Clean favored and imperially slim.
And he was always quietly arrayed, And he was always human when he talked, But still he fluttered pulses when he said, "Good-morning," and he glittered when he walked.
And he was rich--yes, richer than a king-- And admirably schooled in every grace: In fine, we thought that he was everything To make us wish that we were in his place.
So on we worked, and waited for the light, And went without the meat and cursed the bread; And Richard Cory, one calm summer night, Went home and put a bullet through his head.

Written by Edwin Arlington Robinson |

Ballad of a Ship

 Down by the flash of the restless water 
The dim White Ship like a white bird lay; 
Laughing at life and the world they sought her, 
And out she swung to the silvering bay.
Then off they flew on their roystering way, And the keen moon fired the light foam flying Up from the flood where the faint stars play, And the bones of the brave in the wave are lying.
'T was a king's fair son with a king's fair daughter, And full three hundred beside, they say, -- Revelling on for the lone, cold slaughter So soon to seize them and hide them for aye; But they danced and they drank and their souls grew gay, Nor ever they knew of a ghoul's eye spying Their splendor a flickering phantom to stray Where the bones of the brave in the wave are lying.
Through the mist of a drunken dream they brought her (This wild white bird) for the sea-fiend's prey: The pitiless reef in his hard clutch caught her, And hurled her down where the dead men stay.
A torturing silence of wan dismay -- Shrieks and curses of mad souls dying -- Then down they sank to slumber and sway Where the bones of the brave in the wave are lying.
ENVOY Prince, do you sleep to the sound alway Of the mournful surge and the sea-birds' crying? -- Or does love still shudder and steel still slay, Where the bones of the brave in the wave are lying?

Written by Edwin Arlington Robinson |

Ballad of Dead Friends

 As we the withered ferns 
By the roadway lying, 
Time, the jester, spurns 
All our prayers and prying -- 
All our tears and sighing, 
Sorrow, change, and woe -- 
All our where-and-whying 
For friends that come and go.
Life awakes and burns, Age and death defying, Till at last it learns All but Love is dying; Love's the trade we're plying, God has willed it so; Shrouds are what we're buying For friends that come and go.
Man forever yearns For the thing that's flying.
Everywhere he turns, Men to dust are drying, -- Dust that wanders, eying (With eyes that hardly glow) New faces, dimly spying For friends that come and go.
ENVOY And thus we all are nighing The truth we fear to know: Death will end our crying For friends that come and go.

Written by Edwin Arlington Robinson |

The Wilderness

 Come away! come away! there’s a frost along the marshes, 
And a frozen wind that skims the shoal where it shakes the dead black water;
There’s a moan across the lowland and a wailing through the woodland 
Of a dirge that sings to send us back to the arms of those that love us.
There is nothing left but ashes now where the crimson chills of autumn Put off the summer’s languor with a touch that made us glad For the glory that is gone from us, with a flight we cannot follow, To the slopes of other valleys and the sounds of other shores.
Come away! come away! you can hear them calling, calling, Calling us to come to them, and roam no more.
Over there beyond the ridges and the land that lies between us, There’s an old song calling us to come! Come away! come away!—for the scenes we leave behind us Are barren for the lights of home and a flame that’s young forever; And the lonely trees around us creak the warning of the night-wind, That love and all the dreams of love are away beyond the mountains.
The songs that call for us to-night, they have called for men before us, And the winds that blow the message, they have blown ten thousand years; But this will end our wander-time, for we know the joy that waits us In the strangeness of home-coming, and a woman’s waiting eyes.
Come away! come away! there is nothing now to cheer us— Nothing now to comfort us, but love’s road home:— Over there beyond the darkness there’s a window gleams to greet us, And a warm hearth waits for us within.
Come away! come away!—or the roving-fiend will hold us, And make us all to dwell with him to the end of human faring: There are no men yet may leave him when his hands are clutched upon them, There are none will own his enmity, there are none will call him brother.
So we’ll be up and on the way, and the less we boast the better For the freedom that God gave us and the dread we do not know:— The frost that skips the willow-leaf will again be back to blight it, And the doom we cannot fly from is the doom we do not see.
Come away! come away! there are dead men all around us— Frozen men that mock us with a wild, hard laugh That shrieks and sinks and whimpers in the shrill November rushes, And the long fall wind on the lake.

Written by Edwin Arlington Robinson |

Lost Anchors

 Like a dry fish flung inland far from shore, 
There lived a sailor, warped and ocean-browned, 
Who told of an old vessel, harbor-drowned, 
And out of mind a century before, 
Where divers, on descending to explore 
A legend that had lived its way around 
The world of ships, in the dark hulk had found 
Anchors, which had been seized and seen no more.
Improving a dry leiure to invest Their misadventure with a manifest Analogy that he may read who runs, The sailor made it old as ocean grass-- Telling of much that once had come to pass With him, whose mother should have had no sons.

Written by Edwin Arlington Robinson |

The Poor Relation

 No longer torn by what she knows 
And sees within the eyes of others, 
Her doubts are when the daylight goes, 
Her fears are for the few she bothers.
She tells them it is wholly wrong Of her to stay alive so long; And when she smiles her forehead shows A crinkle that had been her mother’s.
Beneath her beauty, blanched with pain, And wistful yet for being cheated, A child would seem to ask again A question many times repeated; But no rebellion has betrayed Her wonder at what she has paid For memories that have no stain, For triumph born to be defeated.
To those who come for what she was— The few left who know where to find her— She clings, for they are all she has; And she may smile when they remind her, As heretofore, of what they know Of roses that are still to blow By ways where not so much as grass Remains of what she sees behind her.
They stay a while, and having done What penance or the past requires, They go, and leave her there alone To count her chimneys and her spires.
Her lip shakes when they go away, And yet she would not have them stay; She knows as well as anyone That Pity, having played, soon tires.
But one friend always reappears, A good ghost, not to be forsaken; Whereat she laughs and has no fears Of what a ghost may reawaken, But welcomes, while she wears and mends The poor relation’s odds and ends, Her truant from a tomb of years— Her power of youth so early taken.
Poor laugh, more slender than her song It seems; and there are none to hear it With even the stopped ears of the strong For breaking heart or broken spirit.
The friends who clamored for her place, And would have scratched her for her face, Have lost her laughter for so long That none would care enough to fear it.
None live who need fear anything From her, whose losses are their pleasure; The plover with a wounded wing Stays not the flight that others measure; So there she waits, and while she lives, And death forgets, and faith forgives, Her memories go foraging For bits of childhood song they treasure.
And like a giant harp that hums On always, and is always blending The coming of what never comes With what has past and had an ending, The City trembles, throbs, and pounds Outside, and through a thousand sounds The small intolerable drums Of Time are like slow drops descending.
Bereft enough to shame a sage And given little to long sighing, With no illusion to assuage The lonely changelessness of dying,— Unsought, unthought-of, and unheard, She sings and watches like a bird, Safe in a comfortable cage From which there will be no more flying.

Written by Edwin Arlington Robinson |

The Unforgiven

 When he, who is the unforgiven, 
Beheld her first, he found her fair: 
No promise ever dreamt in heaven 
Could have lured him anywhere 
That would have nbeen away from there; 
And all his wits had lightly striven, 
Foiled with her voice, and eyes, and hair.
There's nothing in the saints and sages To meet the shafts her glances had, Or such as hers have had for ages To blind a man till he be glad, And humble him till he be mad.
The story would have many pages, And would be neither good nor bad.
And, having followed, you would find him Where properly the play begins; But look for no red light behind him-- No fumes of many-colored sins, Fanned high by screaming violins.
God knows what good it was to blind him Or whether man or woman wins.
And by the same eternal token, Who knows just how it will all end?-- This drama of hard words unspoken, This fireside farce without a friend Or enemy to comprehend What augurs when two lives are broken, And fear finds nothing left to mend.
He stares in vain for what awaits him, And sees in Love a coin to toss; He smiles, and her cold hush berates him Beneath his hard half of the cross; They wonder why it ever was; And she, the unforgiving, hates him More for her lack than for her loss.
He feeds with pride his indecision, And shrinks from what wil not occur, Bequeathing with infirm derision His ashes to the days that were, Before she made him prisoner; And labors to retrieve the vision That he must once have had of her.
He waits, and there awaits an ending, And he knows neither what nor when; But no magicians are attending To make him see as he saw then, And he will never find again The face that once had been the rending Of all his purpose among men.
He blames her not, nor does he chide her, And she has nothing new to say; If he was Bluebeard he could hide her, But that's not written in the play, And there will be no change to-day; Although, to the serene outsider, There still would seem to be a way.

Written by Edwin Arlington Robinson |

The Revealer


He turned aside to see the carcase of the lion: and behold, there was a swarm of bees and honey in the carcase of the lion … And the men of the city said unto him, What is sweeter than honey? and what is stronger than a lion?—Judges, 14.
The palms of Mammon have disowned The gift of our complacency; The bells of ages have intoned Again their rhythmic irony; And from the shadow, suddenly, ’Mid echoes of decrepit rage, The seer of our necessity Confronts a Tyrian heritage.
Equipped with unobscured intent He smiles with lions at the gate, Acknowledging the compliment Like one familiar with his fate; The lions, having time to wait, Perceive a small cloud in the skies, Whereon they look, disconsolate, With scared, reactionary eyes.
A shadow falls upon the land,— They sniff, and they are like to roar; For they will never understand What they have never seen before.
They march in order to the door, Not knowing the best thing to seek, Nor caring if the gods restore The lost composite of the Greek.
The shadow fades, the light arrives, And ills that were concealed are seen; The combs of long-defended hives Now drip dishonored and unclean; No Nazarite or Nazarene Compels our questioning to prove The difference that is between Dead lions—or the sweet thereof.
But not for lions, live or dead, Except as we are all as one, Is he the world’s accredited Revealer of what we have done; What You and I and Anderson Are still to do is his reward; If we go back when he is gone— There is an Angel with a Sword.
He cannot close again the doors That now are shattered for our sake; He cannot answer for the floors We crowd on, or for walls that shake; He cannot wholly undertake The cure of our immunity; He cannot hold the stars, or make Of seven years a century.
So Time will give us what we earn Who flaunt the handful for the whole, And leave us all that we may learn Who read the surface for the soul; And we’ll be steering to the goal, For we have said so to our sons: When we who ride can pay the toll, Time humors the far-seeing ones.
Down to our nose’s very end We see, and are invincible,— Too vigilant to comprehend The scope of what we cannot sell; But while we seem to know as well As we know dollars, or our skins, The Titan may not always tell Just where the boundary begins.

Written by Edwin Arlington Robinson |

New England

 Here where the wind is always north-north-east
And children learn to walk on frozen toes,
Wonder begets an envy of all those
Who boil elsewhere with such a lyric yeast
Of love that you will hear them at a feast
Where demons would appeal for some repose,
Still clamoring where the chalice overflows
And crying wildest who have drunk the least.
Passion is here a soilure of the wits, We're told, and Love a cross for them to bear; Joy shivers in the corner where she knits And Conscience always has the rocking-chair, Cheerful as when she tortured into fits The first cat that was ever killed by Care.

Written by Edwin Arlington Robinson |

Villanelle of Change

 Since Persia fell at Marathon,
The yellow years have gathered fast: 
Long centuries have come and gone.
And yet (they say) the place will don A phantom fury of the past, Since Persia fell at Marathon; And as of old, when Helicon Trembled and swayed with rapture vast (Long centuries have come and gone), This ancient plain, when night comes on, Shakes to a ghostly battle-blast, Since Persia fell at Marathon.
But into soundless Acheron The glory of Greek shame was cast: Long centuries have come and gone, The suns of Hellas have all shone, The first has fallen to the last:— Since Persia fell at Marathon, Long centuries have come and gone.