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Edwin Arlington Robinson

(22 December 1869 – 6 April 1935 / Maine / United States)

Clavering


I say no more for Clavering
Than I should say of him who fails
To bring his wounded vessel home
When reft of rudder and of sails;

I say no more than I should say
Of any other one who sees
Too far for guidance of to-day,
Too near for the eternities.

I think of him as I should think
Of one who for scant wages played,
And faintly, a flawed instrument
That fell while it was being made;

I think of him as one who fared,
Unfaltering and undeceived,
Amid mirages of renown
And urgings of the unachieved;

I think of him as one who gave
To Lingard leave to be amused,
And listened with a patient grace
That we, the wise ones, had refused;

I think of metres that he wrote
For Cubit, the ophidian guest:
“What Lilith, or Dark Lady”… Well,
Time swallows Cubit with the rest.

I think of last words that he said
One midnight over Calverly:
“Good-by—good man.” He was not good;
So Clavering was wrong, you see.

I wonder what had come to pass
Could he have borrowed for a spell
The fiery-frantic indolence
That made a ghost of Leffingwell;

I wonder if he pitied us
Who cautioned him till he was gray
To build his house with ours on earth
And have an end of yesterday;

I wonder what it was we saw
To make us think that we were strong;
I wonder if he saw too much,
Or if he looked one way too long.

But when were thoughts or wonderings
To ferret out the man within?
Why prate of what he seemed to be,
And all that he might not have been?

He clung to phantoms and to friends,
And never came to anything.
He left a wreath on Cubit’s grave.
I say no more for Clavering.

Submitted: Friday, January 03, 2003

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