Edwin Arlington Robinson

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

The Growth of Lorraine


I

While I stood listening, discreetly dumb,
Lorraine was having the last word with me:
“I know,” she said, “I know it, but you see
Some creatures are born fortunate, and some
Are born to be found out and overcome,—
Born to be slaves, to let the rest go free;
And if I’m one of them (and I must be)
You may as well forget me and go home.

“You tell me not to say these things, I know,
But I should never try to be content:
I’ve gone too far; the life would be too slow.
Some could have done it—some girls have the stuff;
But I can’t do it: I don’t know enough.
I’m going to the devil.”—And she went.


II

I did not half believe her when she said
That I should never hear from her again;
Nor when I found a letter from Lorraine,
Was I surprised or grieved at what I read:
“Dear friend, when you find this, I shall be dead.
You are too far away to make me stop.
They say that one drop—think of it, one drop!—
Will be enough,—but I’ll take five instead.

“You do not frown because I call you friend,
For I would have you glad that I still keep
Your memory, and even at the end—
Impenitent, sick, shattered—cannot curse
The love that flings, for better or for worse,
This worn-out, cast-out flesh of mine to sleep.”

Submitted: Friday, January 03, 2003

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