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Best Famous Edwin Arlington Robinson Poems

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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.


by Edwin Arlington Robinson | |

Leonora

 They have made for Leonora this low dwelling in the ground, 
And with cedar they have woven the four walls round.
Like a little dryad hiding she’ll be wrapped all in green, Better kept and longer valued than by ways that would have been.
They will come with many roses in the early afternoon, They will come with pinks and lilies and with Leonora soon; And as long as beauty’s garments over beauty’s limbs are thrown, There’ll be lilies that are liars, and the rose will have its own.
There will be a wondrous quiet in the house that they have made, And to-night will be a darkness in the place where she’ll be laid; But the builders, looking forward into time, could only see Darker nights for Leonora than to-night shall ever be.


by Edwin Arlington Robinson | |

The Companion

 Let him answer as he will,
Or be lightsome as he may,
Now nor after shall he say
Worn-out words enough to kill,
Or to lull down by their craft,
Doubt, that was born yesterday,
When he lied and when she laughed.
Let him and another name for the starlight on the snow, Let him teach her till she know That all seasons are the same, And all sheltered ways are fair,— Still, wherever she may go, Doubt will have a dwelling there.


by Edwin Arlington Robinson | |

The Flying Dutchman

 Unyielding in the pride of his defiance, 
Afloat with none to serve or to command, 
Lord of himself at last, and all by Science, 
He seeks the Vanished Land.
Alone, by the one light of his one thought, He steers to find the shore from which he came, Fearless of in what coil he may be caught On seas that have no name.
Into the night he sails, and after night There is a dawning, thought there be no sun; Wherefore, with nothing but himself in sight, Unsighted, he sails on.
At last there is a lifting of the cloud Between the flood before him and the sky; And then--though he may curse the Power aloud That has no power to die-- He steers himself away from what is haunted By the old ghost of what has been before,-- Abandoning, as always, and undaunted, One fog-walled island more.


by Edwin Arlington Robinson | |

Zola

 Because he puts the compromising chart 
Of hell before your eyes, you are afraid; 
Because he counts the price that you have paid 
For innocence, and counts it from the start, 
You loathe him.
But he sees the human heart Of God meanwhile, and in His hand was weighed Your squeamish and emasculate crusade Against the grim dominion of his art.
Never until we conquer the uncouth Connivings of our shamed indifference (We call it Christian faith) are we to scan The racked and shrieking hideousness of Truth To find, in hate’s polluted self-defence Throbbing, the pulse, the divine heart of man.


by Edwin Arlington Robinson | |

Discovery

 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.


by Edwin Arlington Robinson | |

Haunted House

 Here was a place where none would ever come
For shelter, save as we did from the rain.
We saw no ghost, yet once outside again Each wondered why the other should be so dumb; And ruin, and to our vision it was plain Where thrift, outshivering fear, had let remain Some chairs that were like skeletons of home.
There were no trackless footsteps on the floor Above us, and there were no sounds elsewhere.
But there was more than sound; and there was more Than just an axe that once was in the air Between us and the chimney, long before Our time.
So townsmen said who found her there.


by Edwin Arlington Robinson | |

Sonnet

 Oh for a poet—for a beacon bright 
To rift this changless glimmer of dead gray; 
To spirit back the Muses, long astray, 
And flush Parnassus with a newer light; 
To put these little sonnet-men to flight
Who fashion, in a shrewd mechanic way, 
Songs without souls, that flicker for a day, 
To vanish in irrevocable night.
What does it mean, this barren age of ours? Here are the men, the women, and the flowers, The seasons, and the sunset, as before.
What does it mean? Shall there not one arise To wrench one banner from the western skies, And mark it with his name forevermore?


by Edwin Arlington Robinson | |

Maya

 Through an ascending emptiness of night,
Leaving the flesh and complacent mind
Together in their suffciency behind,
The soul of man went up to a far height;
And where those others would have had no sight
Or sense of else than terror for the blind,
Soul met the Will, and was again consigned
To the surpreme illusion which is right.
"And what goes on up there," the Mind inquired, "That I know not already to be true?"— "More than enough, but not enough for you," Said the descending Soul: "Here in the dark, Where you are least revealed when most admired, You may still be the bellows and the spark.
"


by Edwin Arlington Robinson | |

Supremacy

 There is a drear and lonely tract of hell 
From all the common gloom removed afar: 
A flat, sad land it is, where shadows are, 
Whose lorn estate my verse may never tell.
I walked among them and I knew them well: Men I had slandered on life's little star For churls and sluggards; and I knew the scar Upon their brows of woe ineffable.
But as I went majestic on my way, Into the dark they vanished, one by one, Till, with a shaft of God's eternal day, The dream of all my glory was undone,-- And, with a fool's importunate dismay, I heard the dead men singing in the sun.


by Edwin Arlington Robinson | |

Karma

 Christmas was in the air and all was well
With him, but for a few confusing flaws
In divers of God's images.
Because A friend of his would neither buy nor sell, Was he to answer for the axe that fell? He pondered; and the reason for it was, Partly, a slowly freezing Santa Claus Upon the corner, with his beard and bell.
Acknowledging an improvident surprise, He magnified a fancy that he wished The friend whom he had wrecked were here again.
Not sure of that, he found a compromise; And from the fulness of his heart he fished A dime for Jesus who had died for men.


by Edwin Arlington Robinson | |

Firelight

 Ten years together without yet a cloud,
They seek each other's eyes at intervals
Of gratefulness to firelight and four walls
For love's obliteration of the crowd.
Serenely and perennially endowed And bowered as few may be, their joy recalls No snake, no sword; and over them there falls The blessing of what neither says aloud.
Wiser for silence, they were not so glad Were she to read the graven tale of lines On the wan face of one somewhere alone; Nor were they more content could he have had Her thoughts a moment since of one who shines Apart, and would be hers if he had known.


by Edwin Arlington Robinson | |

The Mill

 The miller's wife had waited long,
The tea was cold, the fire was dead;
And there might yet be nothing wrong
In how he went and what he said:
"There are no millers any more,"
Was all that she had heard him say;
And he had lingered at the door
So long that it seemed yesterday.
Sick with a fear that had no form She knew that she was there at last; And in the mill there was a warm And mealy fragrance of the past.
What else there was would only seem To say again what he had meant; And what was hanging from a beam Would not have heeded where she went.
And if she thought it followed her, She may have reasoned in the dark That one way of the few there were Would hide her and would leave no mark: Black water, smooth above the weir Like starry velvet in the night, Though ruffled once, would soon appear The same as ever to the sight.


by Edwin Arlington Robinson | |

The House on the Hill

 They are all gone away,
The House is shut and still,
There is nothing more to say.
Through broken walls and gray The winds blow bleak and shrill: They are all gone away.
Nor is there one to-day To speak them good or ill: There is nothing more to say.
Why is it then we stray Around the sunken sill? They are all gone away, And our poor fancy-play For them is wasted skill: There is nothing more to say.
There is ruin and decay In the House on the Hill: They are all gone away, There is nothing more to say.


by Edwin Arlington Robinson | |

The Story Of The Ashes And The Flame

 No matter why, nor whence, nor when she came,
There was her place.
No matter what men said, No matter what she was; living or dead, Faithful or not,he loved her all the same.
The story was as old as human shame, But ever since that lonely night she fled, With books to blind him, he had only read The story of the ashes and the flame.
There she was always coming pretty soon To fool him back, with penitent scared eyes That had in them the laughter of the moon For baffled lovers, and to make him think— Before she gave him time enough to wink— Her kisses were the keys to Paradise.


by Edwin Arlington Robinson | |

Why He Was There

 Much as he left it when he went from us
Here was the room again where he had been
So long that something oh him should be seen,
Or felt—and so it was.
Incredulous, I turned about, loath to be greeted thus, And there he was in his old chair, serene As ever, and as laconic as lean As when he lived, and as cadaverous.
Calm as he was of old when we were young, He sat there gazing at the pallid flame Before him.
"And how far will this go on?" I thought.
He felt the failure of my tongue, And smiled: "I was not here until you came; And I shall not be here when you are gone.
"


by Edwin Arlington Robinson | |

The Garden

 There is a fenceless garden overgrown 
With buds and blossoms and all sorts of leaves; 
And once, among the roses and the sheaves, 
The Gardener and I were there alone.
He led me to the plot where I had thrown The fennel of my days on wasted ground, And in that riot of sad weeds I found The fruitage of a life that was my own.
My life! Ah, yes, there was my life, indeed! And there were all the lives of humankind; And they were like a book that I could read, Whose every leaf, miraculously signed, Outrolled itself from Thought’s eternal seed.
Love-rooted in God’s garden of the mind.


by Edwin Arlington Robinson | |

Reuben Bright

 Because he was a butcher and thereby 
Did earn an honest living (and did right), 
I would not have you think that Reuben Bright
Was any more a brute than you or I; 
For when they told him that his wife must die, 
He stared at them, and shook with grief and fright, 
And cried like a great baby half that night, 
And made the women cry to see him cry.
And after she was dead, and he had paid The singers and the sexton and the rest, He packed a lot of things that she had made Most mournfully away in an old chest Of hers, and put some chopped-up cedar boughs In with them, and tore down the slaughter-house.


by Edwin Arlington Robinson | |

The Tree In Pamelas Garden

 Pamela was too gentle to deceive 
Her roses.
"Let the men stay where they are," She said, "and if Apollo's avatar Be one of them, I shall not have to grieve.
" And so she made all Tilbury Town believe She sighed a little more for the North Star Than over men, and only in so far As she was in a garden was like Eve.
Her neighbors—doing all that neighbors can To make romance of reticence meanwhile— Seeing that she had never loved a man, Wished Pamela had a cat, or a small bird, And only would have wondered at her smile Could they have seen that she had overheard.


by Edwin Arlington Robinson | |

The World

 Some are the brothers of all humankind, 
And own them, whatsoever their estate; 
And some, for sorrow and self-scorn, are blind 
With enmity for man's unguarded fate.
For some there is a music all day long Like flutes in Paradise, they are so glad; And there is hell's eternal under-song Of curses and the cries of men gone mad.
Some say the Scheme with love stands luminous, Some say 't were better back to chaos hurled; And so 't is what we are that makes for us The measure and the meaning of the world.