Treasure Island

Edwin Arlington Robinson

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

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Richard Cory


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.

Submitted: Tuesday, December 31, 2002
Edited: Monday, May 21, 2012

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  • * Sunprincess * (6/17/2014 9:56:00 PM)

    .............I feel he made the wrong choice in life...he would have been a happy man..... if he would have shared his wealth with everyone in town.....contributed to charities.....built a boys and girls club.....a new library, hospital and church....anything to help others, would have helped him to lead a fulfilling life.... (Report) Reply

  • Mima Walid (6/16/2014 6:08:00 PM)

    It's one of my best poems i've read til now, it teaches us a valuable lesson that appearences should never matter. (Report) Reply

  • Nika Mcguin (2/18/2014 6:58:00 PM)

    I remember reading this in highschool, Its nice to find it again on this site. I love a poem that leaves impact on your memory like this. (Report) Reply

  • Thomas Vaughan Jones (2/18/2014 12:58:00 PM)

    Whatever Richard Cory was, whatever Richard Cory did, he earned immortality through this poem written in perfect meter. Which is what one would expect from Edwin Arlington, a Prince among poets. (Report) Reply

  • David J Mcdonagh (2/18/2014 5:05:00 AM)

    Paul Simon wrote a song based on this poem, which was recorded by Simon and Garfunkel, and covered by Them (Van Morrison's band) . (Report) Reply

  • Anna Warren (2/6/2014 4:40:00 PM)

    It's more than just the saying money can't buy happiness or the obvious difference in class. Cory was separate from everyone, not of his own will (he spoke to them, wanted this interaction) , but they idolized him or his position and that kept him at a distance. He wasnt secretly depressed for no reason, it was the loneliness he felt everyday despite his attempts to socialize with the people. (Report) Reply

  • Krishnakumar Chandrasekar Nair (11/18/2013 9:22:00 AM)

    Almost every one has a mask these days
    One of a perpetual smile or a long face
    But we may be wrong as it be a case
    Of them hiding their good or their mistakes

    I welcome every one reading this to my page too for your valuable comments please (Report) Reply

  • Samuel Salami (6/22/2013 9:51:00 AM)

    Read this sad poem while preparing for my Senior School Certificate Examination in 1996, to this dady, the theme of ''Appearance and Reality'' has remained glued to my brain. (Report) Reply

  • Meow Moew (3/19/2013 5:15:00 PM)

    My english teacher was brilliant with presenting this poem to us. She read the first half, and then told us to write down what we thought of richard cory (without even telling us there was more to the poem) . Most of us said that he seemed perfect. I thought the poem was kind of boring. Then she read the second half, and the way she went about it gave that last line so much more impact. This is easily one of my favorite poems (if not my most favorite) . (Report) Reply

  • Mudnainah Farah (2/18/2013 10:57:00 PM)

    I remember reading this poem in my Language Arts class. It has a profound meaning behind it; wealth can not acquire happiness, contentment or tranquility. (Report) Reply

  • Kagiso Mogale (2/18/2013 4:40:00 AM)

    the poor guy didnt have anyone to talk to...If there's anything to learn from this poem is that no man is an island we all need friends and family. Don't let your career or money stand between you and your loved ones.
    Everybody needs somebody.... good things in life are priceless (Report) Reply

  • Clinton Rushing (12/3/2012 10:22:00 PM)

    Reminds me of Dennis Leery and the Kurt Cobain bit.... My bank account is full and my nutsack is empty, whaaa I think I'll go blow my brains out. Do we really all have nothing better to do that feel sorry for ourselves? And was this a new idea less than a hundred years ago? I see no greatness, no deeper meaning but feel sorry for those of us who dedicate our times to such nonsense. (Report) Reply

  • James Chase (11/24/2012 10:49:00 PM)

    I find myself relating to this poem a lot recently. I agree with the usually disagreed with interpretation that Richard Cory *might* have been gay. I think the overall idea, however, is that money doesn't buy happiness and that people can be exceptionally skillful in hiding how they truly feel. I am in the top 5% of earners in the US, and I consider myself depressed. I'm gay and alone. While I don't see myself committing suicide, that doesn't mean I'm not miserable. No amount of money can fix that. (Report) Reply

  • Joy Williams (10/25/2012 7:35:00 PM)

    We read this poem together in my English class today. When we got to the last line, everyone in the class was in shock. Everyone, that is, but me. I felt it coming. I identify with Richard Cory... Always pretending to be okay, and everyone believing that he could not be anything otherwise... (Report) Reply

  • Richard Stevens (8/16/2012 6:02:00 AM)

    To me, it's simply the most beautiful poem there is. About a year ago, I didn't like poetry at all, I was way more into prose. However, with Robinson's poetry, this changed. His poetry is so readable and in this poem it's especially the last line impact that appeals to me. I remember reading it for the first time and being quite in shock when the poem came to an end. I love it how [the] people on the pavement admire him, I mean, how could they not admire him? The way Robinson describes him is absolutely amazing and I think he's simply the American Dream incarnate, which is also beautifully represented by the light everybody's waiting for.
    Moreover, it's mainly line 6-7 which I find interesting. The fact that he always sp[o]k[e] human when he talked might indicate that although he's obviously higher in social rank than the other inhabitants of the town, he doesn't mind talking to practically everyone in his town, no matter what social class they find themselves in. The expression that follows in line 7 still touches me when I read it, that is to flutter pulses. I myself am not native English speaker but I found out that this is not a universally acknowledged English expression, yet it is one that affects me deeply. Imagining that your pulse increases when you see someone you're impressed by is real nice, if you ask me. Also, I haven't managed to find this expression in any dictionary so I assume this saying has been invented by Robinson himself. I've recently decided to tattoo But still he fluttered pulses on my wrist (on the very place where you can feel your pulse) , since I admire the character very much and I'm happy to have the same name (Richard) as a admirable person as Richard Cory. When I was a kid, I didn't like my name one bit, but after reading this poem, I must say I'm super proud having a name partner like this (Report) Reply

  • Muhammad Moneib (6/30/2012 11:43:00 AM)

    I love this poem. It just describes a very simple truth about life, and that is not to judge by appearances, and to be thankful of what you already have. It describes it in the most artistic ways by painting an interesting picture of that guy, Richard Cory, whom you'll feel like wishing you were in his place by reading the lines of the poem, just to be surprised by an unexpected twist in the end that is sure to demolish the pretty picture you should have had of this guy. The poem succeeds in making you think and reread and reflect. A masterpiece done by a masterful poet. (Report) Reply

  • Kevin Freckman (5/22/2012 10:29:00 AM)

    I think this is about the faces we all construct to look acceptable to society. The 'less fortunate' people (not as rich) - could not fathom the idea that Richard Cory could be so troubled, and he could not, for the sake of his position in Society, show anything but the refined grace. (Notice that there was no mention of his smile or being happy - only that he appeared to be successful.) And the play ends tragically - Richard Cory is dead and the onlookers can't understand why, (Report) Reply

Read all 72 comments »

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