Edwin Arlington Robinson

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


?No, Mary, there was nothing?not a word. 
Nothing, and always nothing. Go again 
Yourself, and he may listen?or at least 
Look up at you, and let you see his eyes. 
I might as well have been the sound of rain,
A wind among the cedars, or a bird; 
Or nothing. Mary, make him look at you; 
And even if he should say that we are nothing, 
To know that you have heard him will be something. 
And yet he loved us, and it was for love
The Master gave him back. Why did he wait 
So long before he came? Why did he weep? 
I thought he would be glad?and Lazarus? 
To see us all again as he had left us? 
All as it was, all as it was before.?

Mary, who felt her sister?s frightened arms 
Like those of someone drowning who had seized her, 
Fearing at last they were to fail and sink 
Together in this fog-stricken sea of strangeness, 
Fought sadly, with bereaved indignant eyes,
To find again the fading shores of home 
That she had seen but now could see no longer 
Now she could only gaze into the twilight, 
And in the dimness know that he was there, 
Like someone that was not. He who had been
Their brother, and was dead, now seemed alive 
Only in death again?or worse than death; 
For tombs at least, always until today, 
Though sad were certain. There was nothing certain 
For man or God in such a day as this;
For there they were alone, and there was he? 
Alone; and somewhere out of Bethany, 
The Master?who had come to them so late, 
Only for love of them and then so slowly, 
And was for their sake hunted now by men
Who feared Him as they feared no other prey? 
For the world?s sake was hidden. ?Better the tomb 
For Lazarus than life, if this be life,? 
She thought; and then to Martha, ?No, my dear,? 
She said aloud; ?not as it was before.
Nothing is ever as it was before, 
Where Time has been. Here there is more than Time; 
And we that are so lonely and so far 
From home, since he is with us here again, 
Are farther now from him and from ourselves
Than we are from the stars. He will not speak 
Until the spirit that is in him speaks; 
And we must wait for all we are to know, 
Or even to learn that we are not to know. 
Martha, we are too near to this for knowledge,
And that is why it is that we must wait. 
Our friends are coming if we call for them, 
And there are covers we?ll put over him 
To make him warmer. We are too young, perhaps, 
To say that we know better what is best
Than he. We do not know how old he is. 
If you remember what the Master said, 
Try to believe that we need have no fear. 
Let me, the selfish and the careless one, 
Be housewife and a mother for tonight;
For I am not so fearful as you are, 
And I was not so eager.? 

Martha sank 
Down at her sister?s feet and there sat watching 
A flower that had a small familiar name
That was as old as memory, but was not 
The name of what she saw now in its brief 
And infinite mystery that so frightened her 
That life became a terror. Tears again 
Flooded her eyes and overflowed. ?No, Mary,?
She murmured slowly, hating her own words 
Before she heard them, ?you are not so eager 
To see our brother as we see him now; 
Neither is he who gave him back to us. 
I was to be the simple one, as always,
And this was all for me.? She stared again 
Over among the trees where Lazarus, 
Who seemed to be a man who was not there, 
Might have been one more shadow among shadows, 
If she had not remembered. Then she felt
The cool calm hands of Mary on her face, 
And shivered, wondering if such hands were real. 

?The Master loved you as he loved us all, 
Martha; and you are saying only things 
That children say when they have had no sleep.
Try somehow now to rest a little while; 
You know that I am here, and that our friends 
Are coming if I call.? 

Martha at last 
Arose, and went with Mary to the door,
Where they stood looking off at the same place, 
And at the same shape that was always there 
As if it would not ever move or speak, 
And always would be there. ?Mary, go now, 
Before the dark that will be coming hides him.
I am afraid of him out there alone, 
Unless I see him; and I have forgotten 
What sleep is. Go now?make him look at you? 
And I shall hear him if he stirs or whispers. 
Go!?or I?ll scream and bring all Bethany
To come and make him speak. Make him say once 
That he is glad, and God may say the rest. 
Though He say I shall sleep, and sleep for ever, 
I shall not care for that? Go!? 

Mary, moving
Almost as if an angry child had pushed her, 
Went forward a few steps; and having waited 
As long as Martha?s eyes would look at hers, 
Went forward a few more, and a few more; 
And so, until she came to Lazarus,
Who crouched with his face hi