Poetry of E. A. Robinson

Poetry of E. A. Robinson

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by Edwin Arlington Robinson
     
 


Donald Justice called Edwin Arlington Robinson "The first modern American poet." This original collection, edited by Robert Mezey, showcases many of Robinson's underappreciated shorter lyrics, with selections from The Children of the Night; Captain Craig; The Town Down the River; The Man Against the Sky; The Three Taverns; Avon's Harvest, Etc.; and Dionysus in… See more details below

Overview


Donald Justice called Edwin Arlington Robinson "The first modern American poet." This original collection, edited by Robert Mezey, showcases many of Robinson's underappreciated shorter lyrics, with selections from The Children of the Night; Captain Craig; The Town Down the River; The Man Against the Sky; The Three Taverns; Avon's Harvest, Etc.; and Dionysus in Doubt.
        
Robert Mezey, a Guggenheim and NEA fellow, is poet-in-residence at Pomona College and the author of numerous volumes of verse, including Evening Wind. He provides a stimulating Introduction for this collection, together with extracts of Robinson's ideas about verse and criticism of his work. Robert Frost's Introduction to King Jasper is reproduced in full. Robert Mezey contends that E. A. Robinson is "a national treasure, one of the four or five best poets America has yet produced. . . . [He] wrote about ordinary people, old men who play cards and drink cider, unregenerate skirt chasers, village philosophers and cranks, butchers and millers and country doctors, maiden aunts, solitary drunks who have outlived their cronies—Americans suffering their irremediable woes."

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780679602620
Publisher:
Random House Publishing Group
Publication date:
05/11/1999
Series:
Modern Library Editorial Library Series
Pages:
304
Product dimensions:
5.05(w) x 7.59(h) x 0.97(d)

Read an Excerpt


BOKARDO

Well, Bokardo, here we are;
Make yourself at home.
Look around-you haven't far
To look-and why be dumb?
Not the place that used to be,
Not so many things to see;
But there's room for you and me.
And you-you've come.

Talk a little; or, if not,
Show me with a sign
Why it was that you forgot
What was yours and mine.
Friends, I gather, are small things
In an age when coins are kings;
Even at that, one hardly flings
Friends before swine.

Rather strong? I knew as much,
For it made you speak.
No offense to swine, as such,
But why this hide-and-seek?
You have something on your side,
And you wish you might have died,
So you tell me. And you tried
One night last week?

You tried hard? And even then
Found a time to pause?
When you try as hard again,
You'll have another cause.
When you find yourself at odds
With all dreamers of all gods,
You may smite yourself with rods-
But not the laws.

Though they seem to show a spite
Rather devilish,
They move on as with a might
Stronger than your wish.
Still, however strong they be,
They bide man's authority:
Xerxes, when he flogged the sea,
May've scared a fish.

It's a comfort, if you like,
To keep honor warm,
But as often as you strike
The laws, you do no harm.
To the laws, I mean. To you-
That's another point of view,
One you may as well indue
With some alarm.

Not the most heroic face
To present, I grant;
Nor will you insure disgrace
By fearing what you want.
Freedom has a world of sides,
And if reason oncederides
Courage, then your courage hides
A deal of cant.

Learn a little to forget
Life was once a feast;
You aren't fit for dying yet,
So don't be a beast.
Few men with a mind will say,
Thinking twice, that they can pay
Half their debts of yesterday,
Or be released.

There's a debt now on your mind
More than any gold?
And there's nothing you can find
Out there in the cold?
Only-what's his name?-Remorse?
And Death riding on his horse?
Well, be glad there's nothing worse
Than you have told.

Leave Remorse to warm his hands
Outside in the rain.
As for Death, he understands,
And he will come again.
Therefore, till your wits are clear,
Flourish and be quiet-here.
But a devil at each ear
Will be a strain?

Past a doubt they will indeed,
More than you have earned.
I say that because you need
Ablution, being burned?
Well, if you must have it so,
Your last flight went rather low.
Better say you had to know
What you have learned.

And that's over. Here you are,
Battered by the past.
Time will have his little scar,
But the wound won't last.
Nor shall harrowing surprise
Find a world without its eyes
If a star fades when the skies
Are overcast.

God knows there are lives enough,
Crushed, and too far gone
Longer to make sermons of,
And those we leave alone.
Others, if they will, may rend
The worn patience of a friend
Who, though smiling, sees the end,
With nothing done.

But your fervor to be free
Fled the faith it scorned;
Death demands a decency
Of you, and you are warned.
But for all we give we get
Mostly blows? Don't be upset;
You, Bokardo, are not yet
Consumed or mourned.

There'll be falling into view
Much to rearrange;
And there'll be a time for you
To marvel at the change.
They that have the least to fear
Question hardest what is here;
When long-hidden skies are clear,
The stars look strange.

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