Edwin Arlington Robinson
Whenever Richard Cory went down town,
We people on the pavement looked at him;
He was a gentleman from sole to crown,
Clean favored, and imperially slim.
And he was always quietly arrayed,
And he was always human when he talked;
But still he fluttered pulses when he said,
“Good morning,” and he glittered when he walked.
And he was rich – yes, richer than a king,
And admirably schooled in every grace;
In fine, we thought that he was everything
To make us wish that we were in his place.
So on we worked, and waited for the light,
and went without the meat, and cursed the bread;
And Richard Cory, one calm summer night,
Went home and put a bullet through his head.
Mamacita says: Oh, such rhyme scheme perfection – such pristine and perfect ABAB, CDCD, etc.
Pay attention to that part if you wish; I appreciate a good rhyme scheme myself, but the technical part isn’t the only part of a poem.
Poor Richard Cory. Filthy rich, expensive yet tasteful clothing, lovely manners, handsome, slim. . . . . Anybody would be happy with all that. He didn’t even have to work. He could do anything he wanted, any time he wanted. Compared to everybody else in town, Richard Cory had it made, and was the happiest man there.
Money isn’t everything, even if one has some, and Richard Cory, while he obviously had everything money could buy, apparently wanted something his money couldn’t buy, and that something money couldn’t buy was so much more important than wealth or looks or clothing or manners or education that Richard Cory, not having it, felt that life, even with everything else, wasn’t worth living so he stopped.
I first encountered this poem in junior high and it blew me away. I’m not back yet, in fact. It affected me greatly, and I’m still reeling from the effect.
Simon and Garfunkle liked this poem, too. They liked it enough to turn it into a song, in fact.