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ROBINSON, Edwin Arlington

Aaron Stark

Withal a meagre man was Aaron Stark,

Cursed and unkempt, shrewd, shrivelled, and morose.

A miser was he, with a miser's nose,

And eyes like little dollars in the dark.

His thin, pinched mouth was nothing but a mark;

And when he spoke there came like sullen blows

Through scattered fangs a few snarled words and close,

As if a cur were chary of its bark.

Glad for the murmur of his hard renown,

Year after year he shambled through the town,

A loveless exile moving with a staff;

And oftentimes there crept into his ears

A sound of alien pity, touched with tears,—

And then (and only then) did Aaron laugh.

Another Dark Lady

Think not, because I wonder where you fled,

That I would lift a pin to see you there;

You may, for me, be prowling anywhere,

So long as you show not your little head:

No dark and evil story of the dead

Would leave you less pernicious or less fair—

Not even Lilith, with her famous hair;

And Lilith was the devil, I have read.

I cannot hate you, for I loved you then.

The woods were golden then. There was a road

Through beeches; and I said their smooth feet showed

Like yours. Truth must have heard me from afar,

For I shall never have to learn again

That yours are cloven as no beech’s are.

(See Shakespeare Sonnet 127)

The Sheaves

Where long the shadows of the wind had rolled,

Green wheat was yielding to the change assigned;

And as by some vast magic undivined

The world was turning slowly into gold.

Like nothing that was ever bought or sold

It waited there, the body and the mind;

And with a mighty meaning of a kind

That tells the more the more it is not told.

So in a land where all days are not fair,

Fair days went on till on another day

A thousand golden sheaves were lying there,

Shining and still, but not for long to stay –

As if a thousand girls with golden hair

Might rise from where they slept and go away.

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.

Eros Turannos

She fears him, and will always ask
      What fated her to choose him;
She meets in his engaging mask
      All reasons to refuse him;
But what she meets and what she fears
Are less than are the downward years,
Drawn slowly to the foamless weirs
      Of age, were she to lose him.

Between a blurred sagacity
      That once had power to sound him,
And Love, that will not let him be
      The Judas that she found him,
Her pride assuages her almost,
As if it were alone the cost –
He sees that he will not be lost
      And waits and looks around him.

A sense of ocean and old trees
      Envelops and allures him;
Tradition, touching all he sees,
      Beguiles and reassures him;
And all her doubts of what he says
Are dimmed with what she knows of days –
Till even prejudice delays
      And fades, and she secures him.

The failing leaf inaugurates
      The reign of her confusion:
The pounding wave reverberates
      The dirge of her illusion;
And home, where passion lived and died,
Becomes a place where she can hide,
While all the town and harbour side
      Vibrate with her seclusion.

We tell you, tapping on our brows,
      The story as it should be –
As if the story of a house
      Were told, or ever could be;
We'll have no kindly veil between
Her visions and those we have seen –
As if we guessed what hers had been,
      Or what they are, or would be

Meanwhile we do no harm; for they
      That with a god have striven,
Not hearing much of what we say,
      Take what the god has given;
Though like waves breaking it may be
Or like a changed familiar tree,
Or like a stairway to the sea
      Where down the blind are driven.

Luke Havergal

Go to the western gate, Luke Havergal,
There where the vines cling crimson on the wall,
And in the twilight wait for what will come.
The leaves will whisper there of her, and some,
Like flying words, will strike you as they fall;
But go, and if you listen, she will call.
Go to the western gate, Luke Havergal—
Luke Havergal.

No, there is not a dawn in eastern skies
To rift the fiery night that's in your eyes;
But there, where western glooms are gathering
The dark will end the dark, if anything:
God slays Himself with every leaf that flies,
And hell is more than half of paradise.
No, there is not a dawn in eastern skies—
In eastern skies.

Out of a grave I come to tell you this,
Out of a grave I come to quench the kiss
That flames upon your forehead with a glow
That blinds you to the way that you must go.
Yes, there is yet one way to where she is,
Bitter, but one that faith may never miss.
Out of a grave I come to tell you this—
To tell you this.

There is the western gate, Luke Havergal,
There are the crimson leaves upon the wall,
Go, for the winds are tearing them away,—
Nor think to riddle the dead words they say,
Nor any more to feel them as they fall;
But go, and if you trust her she will call.
There is the western gate, Luke Havergal—
Luke Havergal.

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 of 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.'

Mr. Flood's Party

Old Eben Flood, climbing alone one night

Over the hill between the town below

And the forsaken upland hermitage

That held as much as he should ever know

On earth again of home, paused warily.

The road was his with not a native near;

And Eben, having leisure, said aloud,

For no man else in Tilbury Town to hear:

"Well, Mr. Flood, we have the harvest moon

Again, and we may not have many more;

The bird is on the wing, the poet says,

And you and I have said it here before.

Drink to the bird." He raised up to the light

The jug that he had gone so far to fill,

And answered huskily: "Well, Mr. Flood,

Since you propose it, I believe I will."

Alone, as if enduring to the end

A valiant armor of scarred hopes outworn,

He stood there in the middle of the road

Like Roland's ghost winding a silent horn.

Below him, in the town among the trees,

Where friends of other days had honored him,

A phantom salutation of the dead

Rang thinly till old Eben's eyes were dim.

Thn, as a mother lays her sleeping child

Down tenderly, fearing it may awake,

He set the jug down slowly at his feet

With trembling care, knowing that most things break;

And only when assured that on firm earth

It stood, as the uncertain lives of men

Assuredly did not, he paced away,

And with his hand extended paused again:

"Well, Mr. Flood, we have not met like this

In a long time; and many a change has come

To both of us, I fear, since last it was

We had a drop together. Welcome home!"

Convivially returning with himself,

Again he raised the jug up to the light;

And with an acquiescent quaver said:

"Well, Mr. Flood, if you insist, I might.

"Only a very little, Mr. Flood—

For auld lang syne. No more, sir; that will do."

So, for the time, apparently it did,

And Eben evidently thought so too;

For soon amid the silver loneliness

Of night he lifted up his voice and sang,

Secure, with only two moons listening,

Until the whole harmonious landscape rang—

"For auld lang syne." The weary throat gave out,

The last word wavered; and the song being done,

He raised again the jug regretfully

And shook his head, and was again alone.

There was not much that was ahead of him,

And there was nothing in the town below—

Where strangers would have shut the many doors

That many friends had opened long ago.