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Richard Cory by Edwin Arlington Robinson

edwinA self proclaimed “incorrigible fisher of words” from age twelve, Edwin Arlington Robinson was a Pulitzer Prize winning poet who rose to prominence during the turn of the 20th century. Much of Robinson’s craft was based in the hardships he suffered from a very young age and lasted his entire life. Great misery provided him with the ability to create great work. With much inspiration from an unhappy childhood (which included being nameless for the first six months of his life), unrequited love, and even his family’s severe financial losses during the Panic of 1893 while attending Harvard University. His dismissal from the school allowed him to publish two volumes of poems and eventually led to a writing position working for President Theodore Roosevelt upon being discovered by the President’s nephew, Kermit. Robinson’s depiction of life, love, and all of their struggles rendered him as “more artful than Hardy and more coy than Frost and a brilliant sonneteer” by posterity.

Whenever Richard Cory went down town,
We people on the pavement looked at him:
He was a gentelmen 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 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.”