Edwin Arlington Robinson

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

Ballad By The Fire

Poem by Edwin Arlington Robinson

Slowly I smoke and hug my knee,
The while a witless masquerade
Of things that only children see
Floats in a mist of light and shade:
They pass, a flimsy cavalcade,
And with a weak, remindful glow,
The falling embers break and fade,
As one by one the phantoms go.

Then, with a melancholy glee
To think where once my fancy strayed,
I muse on what the years may be
Whose coming tales are all unsaid,
Till tongs and shovel, snugly laid
Within their shadowed niches, grow

By grim degrees to pick and spade,
As one by one the phantoms go.

But then, what though the mystic Three
Around me ply their merry trade? --
And Charon soon may carry me
Across the gloomy Stygian glade? --

Be up, my soul! nor be afraid
Of what some unborn year may show;
But mind your human debts are paid,
As one by one the phantoms go.


Life is the game that must be played:
This truth at least, good friend, we know;
So live and laugh, nor be dismayed
As one by one the phantoms go.

Comments about Ballad By The Fire by Edwin Arlington Robinson

  • Spam is my favorite food (10/30/2018 3:12:00 PM)

    Spam is my favorite food
    Spam is my favorite food
    Spam is my favorite food
    Spam is my favorite food
    Spam is my favorite food(Report)Reply

    3 person liked.
    5 person did not like.
  • Savita TyagiSavita Tyagi (1/11/2018 3:45:00 PM)

    Dry nice poem with a touch of mythology weaved in.(Report)Reply

    4 person liked.
    2 person did not like.
  • Edward Kofi LouisEdward Kofi Louis (1/11/2018 11:23:00 AM)

    A filmsy cavalcade! ! Thanks for sharing this poem with us.(Report)Reply

    4 person liked.
    2 person did not like.
  • Deepak Kumar Pattanayak (1/11/2018 1:58:00 AM)

    We wonder what new danger there is in store for us, and we begin to feel nervous and anxious but as told life
    is a game and that must be played as one by one the phantoms go..........very well composed and inspiring(Report)Reply

    3 person liked.
    1 person did not like.
  • Terry FinchTerry Finch (1/11/2010 3:37:00 PM)

    I like his style and he reminds me of some other poet, though I'm not sure just who.(Report)Reply

    4 person liked.
    3 person did not like.
Read all 5 comments »

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Read poems about / on: children, truth, friend, fire, light, ballad, life, child

Poem Submitted: Friday, January 3, 2003