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Edwin Arlington Robinson

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

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Richard Cory

Whenever Richard Cory went down town,
We people on the pavement looked at him:
He was a gentleman from sole to crown,
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  • Ray Schreiber (2/18/2012 8:32:00 PM)

    This wonderful poem seems to be less about Richard Cory than it is about those who watched, admired and were mystified by his unexpected exit. (Report) Reply

  • Paul Brookes (2/18/2012 4:35:00 AM)

    Maybe the guy's saying here is a person we all envied who had everything except love and peace of mind and that money canit buy happiness and finding life empty felt he had nothing to live for even if he had everything material. As a poem I find it scans awkwardly and jars but its sentiments are good. No actual satistical proof that gays are more likely to commit suiside. Another myth explodes I hope! ! ! ! (Report) Reply

  • Ruthie Bode (1/5/2012 2:33:00 AM)

    Perhaps Richard Cory was gay and closeted. After all, gay people are much more likely to commit suicide than straight people. (Report) Reply

  • M Erecke (4/6/2010 2:44:00 PM)

    Richard Corey is a poem of the narcissist. Caught in a double-bind in which he must present with exaggerated dignity and mastery in order to feel adequate, and having so sold himself, can never allow himself to be truly known for the inferior he secretly feels himself to be.
    His ability to mimic the superior status he must maintain in order to feel justified results from his having sold it to himself almost completely-the better convince others... but at the expense of his true emotions, which are toxic with shame, and which he began repressing so long ago in order to receive the success he hoped would prove them wrong, that he has on most levels forgotten that long-past decision, become willfully ignorant of his corrosive interior life, and become doomed to a treadmill which he has slowly realized is not only leading nowhere, but which ensures through its repeated success that he will become less able to free himself from emotional torture, and self-actualize through self-expression, as his continued upward socioeconomic trajectory only makes it more impossible that his 'weakness' might be acceptable in the eyes of those who have grown to admire him.
    Rather than ruin the false self he's created, and end up a despised imposter in the eyes of those whose admiration has become his one small solace, he opts for a last stroke of honesty-his admission of abject helplessness..and through suicide ensures that he will not remain to face the jeers of the admirers who have placed him on a pedestal, secretly hoping to see him fall.
    He reduces the gulf between his emotional self and public self with one fell-swoop-anhilating both in what seems the only possible means of resolving the no longer tolerable stresses of subterfuge in the face of a problem only growing, rather than receding, at his lifelong efforts. (Report) Reply

  • Elliot F. Nieves (3/31/2010 4:37:00 PM)

    Richard Cory's major flaw as a character will never be known, except to himself. The reader can assign him whatever flaw he or she wishes, but it will always be after the fact of his killing himself at the end of the poem. To the reader, Richard Cory didn't have any visible or conceivable flaws, until he shockingly kills himself.
    Well, he became sort of a legend, as the poem goes, by taking his own life, and not that of any of his ogleing, fellow humans. In another discussion of this poem during my college years, it was suggested that Richard Cory was a pimp! How about that! (Report) Reply

  • Yacov Mitchenko (2/18/2010 11:01:00 PM)

    This is well done, the sort of writing aspiring poets should study. Notice the clean-cut statements, the precision, concision, the utter lack of cliche. The message of the poem is clear: as happy and contented as one appears to be, the fact may be otherwise. I think one of the readers here who took issue with it, claiming it indulges in bashing people of high intellectual and social stature, misses the point. He reads too much into it. It's a simple poem relating a common situation. It talks about the rich often being secretly miserable, but it in no way suggests that the poor do not have their own masks.

    I give this poem a 9, which says a lot. Typically, I don't rate poems on this site, as that might cause a great deal of resentment among amateurs. The fact is that a poem worthy of a 9, much less a 10, is about 1 in a 1000 - at least. The reason this poem doesn't get a 10 is not because of technique or grace in expression, but because it isn't sufficiently fecund. It lacks a necessary ambiguity, which would allow for multiple interpretations. The poem is just too clear for its own good, and a touch too simple. Still, I enjoy reading and re-reading it. (Report) Reply

  • Herman Chiu (2/18/2010 10:31:00 PM)

    What an excellent poem! There is evidence of a statement of great misconception among those that 'wish to be in his place'. The statement is unusually strong for a poem of its type, and the structure works well with the description of this Richard Cory. 'Blame it on the Girls', by Mika, carries a similar theme. (Report) Reply

  • Michael Pruchnicki (2/18/2010 3:45:00 PM)

    It's too bad that some of us on this site confuse Edwin Arlington Robinson with the poet from Illinois who wrote the verse epitaphs that he entitled SPOON RIVER ANTHOLOGY - Edgar Lee Masters! And the resident expert on this site who does NOT understand that 'quietly arrayed' suggests the kind of discreet and expensive tailor-made suits Cory wore that denoted his good taste in clothing. No sweatpants and gym shoes for Mr Cory! And how in the world does the phrase 'he glittered when he walked' imply the staggering gait of an alcoholic in his rambles about the town! Why must Cory's interior be so disheveled, as one writer notes? Perhaps he simply went home one calm summer night and executed the deed as calmly as he had lived his life. Readers who make comments like that resemble those in town who 'worked and waited for the light'! The hoi polloi, those who long for an equality that exists only in the socialist dreams that Straw alluded to! (Report) Reply

  • Shanice John (2/18/2010 2:56:00 PM)

    I remember my first timE reading this poem and i thought it was boring until i reached the end.E.A.Robinson made the poem seem predictable as he kept talking positively about Richard Cory making readers expect that the poem would end on on a positive note but it didn't.Readers are deceived by the poem's outcome as well as by Richard Cory.What a clever way to highlight the the theme of deceit. (Report) Reply

  • Sarah Fetzer (2/18/2010 12:11:00 PM)

    I love these named poems from E.A. Robinson that were inspired by tombstones. (This is just one of a set) . They are great interesting little reads often with a dark twist. (Report) Reply

  • Aaliyah Islaam (2/18/2010 6:10:00 AM)

    I actually think this poem is really good. It really shows how people percieve others and how we percieve ourselves.

    And how some people may seem fine on the outside but we cannot see what is within. This man Richard Cory needed some help, but nobody saw that they just saw the outside.

    It's a sad poem, but it happens every day. (Report) Reply

  • Kevin Straw (2/18/2010 5:48:00 AM)

    What a horrible poem. What is its message? That some people who seem OK on the outside have problems within? That is typical of many people from high to low. This poem invites the schadenfreude of commenters who love to see people of intellectual and moral stature brought down. It is the anthem of those who are plagued with the tall poppy sydrome. It does not invite compassion or understanding but derision and a brutish satisfaction in the fall of anyone who dares raise his head above the level of the mob. (Report) Reply

  • Joseph Poewhit (2/18/2010 4:54:00 AM)

    Great poem for our time. An outward appearance and the inner calamity of disheavaled inner turmoil. Rigidity of life style, elevated social status, finelly breaking like a balloon overblown. (Report) Reply

  • Indira Renganathan (2/18/2010 2:44:00 AM)

    Who knows the secret reason now...I guess, may be poverty or guilt or shame..but Richard Cory knew why he flutterd pulses when he said,
    'Good Morning! ' and he glittered when he walked....the perturbed mind needn't have shot dead itself.... the poem is good to read for its writing though sorrow for its content (Report) Reply

  • Terence George Craddock (2/18/2010 2:21:00 AM)

    But still he fluttered pulses when he said,
    'Good Morning! ' and he glittered when he walked.

    Does this imply a closet alcoholic or drug addict, in advanced cases they are often thin and 'imperially slim' is not the typical size of the rich in adulthood. It explains the ‘glittered’ as drug euphoria. Arlington after several years of poverty was better attired when fame and fortune came, and turned to drink again in his last years, in a claimed protest against Prohibition. Sounds like typical alcoholic denial. Born of a rich family that bankrupted with his fathers death, a middle brother who is reported to have died a suicide; all the ingredients for writing this poem are locked in the poet's psyche. As an example, not all the rich on Wall Street jumped at the start of the famous depression. Some shot themselves. The socially privileged are rather famous for suddenly topping themselves, when disaster strikes. A plain straight forward reading, to each reader their own favorite, this will suffice as mine. (Report) Reply

  • Ramesh T A (2/18/2010 1:35:00 AM)

    Richard Cory tried to equlise his inside and outside without success and hence he suicided unbearably at the end! A straightforward poetic expression by Edwin Arlington Robinson high lights the nature of a noble person very well! (Report) Reply

  • Kenya Lawry (2/8/2010 6:10:00 PM)

    I feel this poem is saying never judge a book by it's cover. You never know what a person might be feeling on the inside. (Report) Reply

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