Mr. Flood's Party Poem by Edwin Arlington Robinson

Mr. Flood's Party

Rating: 3.1

Old Eben Flood, climbing alone one night
Over the hill between the town below
And the forsaken upland hermitage
That held as much as he should ever know
On earth again of home, paused warily.
The road was his with not a native near;
And Eben, having leisure, said aloud,
For no man else in Tilbury Town to hear:

"Well, Mr. Flood, we have the harvest moon
Again, and we may not have many more;
The bird is on the wing, the poet says,
And you and I have said it here before.
Drink to the bird." He raised up to the light
The jug that he had gone so far to fill,
And answered huskily: "Well, Mr. Flood,
Since you propose it, I believe I will."

Alone, as if enduring to the end
A valiant armor of scarred hopes outworn.
He stood there in the middle of the road
Like Roland's ghost winding a silent horn.
Below him, in the town among the trees,
Where friends of other days had honored him,
A phantom salutation of the dead
Rang thinly till old Eben's eyes were dim.

Then, as a mother lays her sleeping child
Down tenderly, fearing it may awake,
He sat the jug down slowly at his feet
With trembling care, knowing that most things break;
And only when assured that on firm earth
It stood, as the uncertain lives of men
Assuredly did not, he paced away,
And with his hand extended paused again:

"Well, Mr. Flood, we have not met like this
In a long time; and many a change has come
To both of us, I fear, since last it was
We had a drop together. Welcome home!"
Convivially returning with himself,
Again he raised the jug up to the light;
And with an acquiescent quaver said:
"Well, Mr. Flood, if you insist, I might.

"Only a very little, Mr. Flood--
For auld lang syne. No more, sir; that will do."
So, for the time, apparently it did
And Eben apparently thouht so too;
For soon among the silver loneliness
Of night he lifted up his voice and sang,
Secure, with only two moons listening,
Until the whole harmonious landscape rang--

"For auld lang syne." The weary throat gave out,
The last word wavered, and the song was done.
He raised again the jug regretfully
And shook his head, and was again alone.
There was not much that was ahead of him,
And there was nothing in the town below--
Where strangers would have shut the many doors
That many friends had opened long ago.

Francine Moshi 01 October 2011

We come alone into the world, well really me & I. Subject of unknown replicator(s) . And through life we go and alone we shall go out of it. Satisfy that human condition, as much as you can Mr. Flood. It's your life.

3 3 Reply
Brian Jani 09 May 2014

Wow I enjoyed your poem Edwin

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Frank Avon 24 August 2014

I'm sorry Robinson isn't best known for this poem, which is so many ways is better than either Richard Cory or Miniver Cheevy. This one is so precise in its realism, so exact; it is, at the same time, charming and sad, humorous and tragic. I like old Eben. Thanks to Robinson, I understand him. He is not to be pitied; he should be respected. Where are those neighbors who honored him long ago - and should still?

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michael walker. 29 July 2019

Old Eben Flood is actually talking to himself: 'Only a little Mr. Flood-'. Alcohol, that is. Because of his drinking, he is not liked so much now by the townspeople: 'And there was nothing in the town below- / Where strangers would have shut the many doors/ That many friends had opened long ago.' So brilliant.

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Terry Craddock 20 March 2015

If anyone is interested in reading a poem inspired by 'Mr. Flood's Party' by Edwin Arlington Robinson, then read below, if not please ignore and regardless enjoy your day :) Left 'Tis A Curse Living Too Long A curse of time living too long unlike the harvest moon to not belong; to slumber on as an old solitary meander song to remember lost years past when we were strong; cobweb shadows time dusted weaved lifelong 'tis late but yet death knell does not dong; A curse of living too long another to add to the list; is all our friends did pass away some decades past death did slay; we outlive them all, address book fills with deleted scratched out names; none live on to recite remember our deems of fame long passed lost spring summer days; we live on to be shadow strangers in places of changes those we knew buried burned spread to scattered cemeteries; a footnote a brief adieu eyes step read by echo passes in forgotten rows of engraved tombstone names. Copyright © Terence George Craddock Written in March 2015 on the 21.3.2015. Inspired by the poem 'Mr. Flood's Party' by Edwin Arlington Robinson.

6 8 Reply
michael walker. 29 July 2019

A collection of thoughts about old age, 'a curse of living too long'. But I want to live as long as possible. Many people I knew have since died, and your poem is like a memorial to them. Tremendous writing.

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Terry Craddock 20 March 2015

A curse of living too long, another to add to the list is all our friends pass away, we outlive them all, address book fills with scratched out names; none live on to recite remember our deems of long passed days, we live on to be strangers in places of changes, those we knew are buried or burned spread to scattered cemeteries, a footnote is a brief adieu read by who in forgotten rows of tombstone names.

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Kim Barney 20 March 2015

I don't usually like to read longer poems, but this one to me was well worth it. It does have a typo or two, but I enjoyed it thoroughly.

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Michael Walker 07 February 2015

I like the wit and insight in this poem about a man who is really talking to himself. Mr Flood has lost most of his friends in Tilbury Town. It is one of Robinson's very best poems, in my opinion.

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