Edwin Arlington Robinson

Here you will find the Long Poem Flammonde of poet Edwin Arlington Robinson


The man Flammonde, from God knows where, 
With firm address and foreign air 
With news of nations in his talk 
And something royal in his walk, 
With glint of iron in his eyes, 
But never doubt, nor yet surprise, 
Appeared, adn stayed, and held his head 
As one by kings accredited.

Erect, with his alert repose 
About him, and about his clothes, 
He pictured all tradition hears 
Of what we owe to fifty years. 
His cleansing heritage of taste 
Paraded neither want nor waste; 
And what he needed for his fee 
To live, he borrowed graciously.

He never told us what he was, 
Or what mischance, or other cause, 
Had banished him from better days 
To play the Prince of Castaways. 
Meanwhile he played surpassing well 
A part, for most, unplayable; 
In fine, one pauses, half afraid 
To say for certain that he played.

For that, one may as well forego 
Conviction as to yes or no; 
Nor can I say just how intense 
Would then have been the difference 
To several, who, having striven 
In vain to get what he was given, 
Would see the stranger taken on 
By friends not easy to be won.

Moreover many a malcontent 
He soothed, and found munificent; 
His courtesy beguiled and foiled 
Suspicion that his years were soiled; 
His mien distinguished any crowd, 
His credit strengthened when he bowed; 
And women, young and old, were fond 
Of looking at the man Flammond.

There was a woman in our town 
On whom the fashion was to frown; 
But while our talk renewed the tinge 
Of a long-faded scarlet fringe, 
The man Flammonde saw none of that, 
And what he saw we wondered at-- 
That none of us, in her distress, 
Could hide or find our littleness.

There was a boy that all agreed 
had shut within him the rare seed 
Of learning. We could understand, 
But none of us could lift a hand. 
The man Flammonde appraised the youth, 
And told a few of us the truth; 
And thereby, for a little gold, 
A flowered future was unrolled.

There were two citizens who fought 
For years and years, and over nought; 
They made life awkward for their friends, 
And shortened their own dividends. 
The man Flammonde said what was wrong 
Should be made right; nor was it long 
Before they were again in line 
And had each other in to dine.

And these I mention are but four 
Of many out of many more. 
So much for them. But what of him-- 
So firm in every look and limb? 
What small satanic sort of kink 
Was in his brain? What broken link 
Withheld hom from the destinies 
That came so near to being his?

What was he, when we came to sift 
His meaning, and to note the drift 
Of incommunicable ways 
That make us ponder while we praise? 
Why was it that his charm revealed 
Somehow the surface of a shield? 
What was it that we never caught? 
What was he, and what was he not?

How much it was of him we met 
We cannot ever know; nor yet 
Shall all he gave us quite attone 
For what was his, and his alone; 
Nor need we now, since he knew best, 
Nourish an ethical unrest: 
Rarely at once will nature give 
The power to be Flammonde and live.

We cannot know how much we learn 
From those who never will return, 
Until a flash of unforseen 
Remembrance falls on what has been. 
We've each a darkening hill to climb; 
And this is why, from time to time 
In Tilbury Town, we look beyond 
Horizons for the man Flammonde.