Treasure Island

Edwin Arlington Robinson

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

The Clinging Vine


“Be calm? And was I frantic?
You’ll have me laughing soon.
I’m calm as this Atlantic,
And quiet as the moon;
I may have spoken faster
Than once, in other days;
For I’ve no more a master,
And now—‘Be calm,’ he says.

“Fear not, fear no commotion,—
I’ll be as rocks and sand;
The moon and stars and ocean
Will envy my command;
No creature could be stiller
In any kind of place
Than I … No, I’ll not kill her;
Her death is in her face.

“Be happy while she has it,
For she’ll not have it long;
A year, and then you’ll pass it,
Preparing a new song.
And I’m a fool for prating
Of what a year may bring,
When more like her are waiting
For more like you to sing.

“You mock me with denial,
You mean to call me hard?
You see no room for trial
When all my doors are barred?
You say, and you’d say dying,
That I dream what I know;
And sighing, and denying,
You’d hold my hand and go.

“You scowl—and I don’t wonder;
I spoke too fast again;
But you’ll forgive one blunder,
For you are like most men:
You are,—or so you’ve told me,
So many mortal times,
That heaven ought not to hold me
Accountable for crimes.

“Be calm? Was I unpleasant?
Then I’ll be more discreet,
And grant you, for the present,
The balm of my defeat:
What she, with all her striving,
Could not have brought about,
You’ve done. Your own contriving
Has put the last light out.

“If she were the whole story,
If worse were not behind,
I’d creep with you to glory,
Believing I was blind;
I’d creep, and go on seeming
To be what I despise.
You laugh, and say I’m dreaming,
And all your laughs are lies.

“Are women mad? A few are,
And if it’s true you say—
If most men are as you are—
We’ll all be mad some day.
Be calm—and let me finish;
There’s more for you to know.
I’ll talk while you diminish,
And listen while you grow.

“There was a man who married
Because he couldn’t see;
And all his days he carried
The mark of his degree.
But you—you came clear-sighted,
And found truth in my eyes;
And all my wrongs you’ve righted
With lies, and lies, and lies.

“You’ve killed the last assurance
That once would have me strive
To rouse an old endurance
That is no more alive.
It makes two people chilly
To say what we have said,
But you—you’ll not be silly
And wrangle for the dead.

“You don’t? You never wrangle?
Why scold then,—or complain?
More words will only mangle
What you’ve already slain.
Your pride you can’t surrender?
My name—for that you fear?
Since when were men so tender,
And honor so severe?

“No more—I’ll never bear it.
I’m going. I’m like ice.
My burden? You would share it?
Forbid the sacrifice!
Forget so quaint a notion,
And let no more be told;
For moon and stars and ocean
And you and I are cold.”

Submitted: Friday, January 03, 2003

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  • Ashley Seats (9/5/2008 12:02:00 AM)

    This poem has fascinated me since I first read it back in freshman year of high school. I tend to base most my poetry on this style. I love it so much, it gives me shivers up my spine. (Report) Reply

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