Edwin Arlington Robinson

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



We thrill too strangely at the master?s touch; 
We shrink too sadly from the larger self 
Which for its own completeness agitates 
And undetermines us; we do not feel? 
We dare not feel it yet?the splendid shame
Of uncreated failure; we forget, 
The while we groan, that God?s accomplishment 
Is always and unfailingly at hand. 


Tumultously void of a clean scheme 
Whereon to build, whereof to formulate,
The legion life that riots in mankind 
Goes ever plunging upward, up and down, 
Most like some crazy regiment at arms, 
Undisciplined of aught but Ignorance, 
And ever led resourcelessly along
To brainless carnage by drunk trumpeters. 


To me the groaning of world-worshippers 
Rings like a lonely music played in hell 
By one with art enough to cleave the walls 
Of heaven with his cadence, but without
The wisdom or the will to comprehend 
The strangeness of his own perversity, 
And all without the courage to deny 
The profit and the pride of his defeat. 


While we are drilled in error, we are lost
Alike to truth and usefulness. We think 
We are great warriors now, and we can brag 
Like Titans; but the world is growing young, 
And we, the fools of time, are growing with it:? 
We do not fight to-day, we only die;
We are too proud of death, and too ashamed 
Of God, to know enough to be alive. 


There is one battle-field whereon we fall 
Triumphant and unconquered; but, alas! 
We are too fleshly fearful of ourselves
To fight there till our days are whirled and blurred 
By sorrow, and the ministering wheels 
Of anguish take us eastward, where the clouds 
Of human gloom are lost against the gleam 
That shines on Thought?s impenetrable mail.


When we shall hear no more the cradle-songs 
Of ages?when the timeless hymns of Love 
Defeat them and outsound them?we shall know 
The rapture of that large release which all 
Right science comprehends; and we shall read,
With unoppressed and unoffended eyes, 
That record of All-Soul whereon God writes 
In everlasting runes the truth of Him. 


The guerdon of new childhood is repose:? 
Once he has read the primer of right thought,
A man may claim between two smithy strokes 
Beatitude enough to realize 
God?s parallel completeness in the vague 
And incommensurable excellence 
That equitably uncreates itself
And makes a whirlwind of the Universe. 


There is no loneliness:?no matter where 
We go, nor whence we come, nor what good friends 
Forsake us in the seeming, we are all 
At one with a complete companionship;
And though forlornly joyless be the ways 
We travel, the compensate spirit-gleams 
Of Wisdom shaft the darkness here and there, 
Like scattered lamps in unfrequented streets. 


When one that you and I had all but sworn
To be the purest thing God ever made 
Bewilders us until at last it seems 
An angel has come back restigmatized,? 
Faith wavers, and we wonder what there is 
On earth to make us faithful any more,
But never are quite wise enough to know 
The wisdom that is in that wonderment. 


Where does a dead man go??The dead man dies; 
But the free life that would no longer feed 
On fagots of outburned and shattered flesh
Wakes to a thrilled invisible advance, 
Unchained (or fettered else) of memory; 
And when the dead man goes it seems to me 
?T were better for us all to do away 
With weeping, and be glad that he is gone.


Still through the dusk of dead, blank-legended, 
And unremunerative years we search 
To get where life begins, and still we groan 
Because we do not find the living spark 
Where no spark ever was; and thus we die,
Still searching, like poor old astronomers 
Who totter off to bed and go to sleep, 
To dream of untriangulated stars. 


With conscious eyes not yet sincere enough 
To pierce the glimmered cloud that fluctuates
Between me and the glorifying light 
That screens itself with knowledge, I discern 
The searching rays of wisdom that reach through 
The mist of shame?s infirm credulity, 
And infinitely wonder if hard words
Like mine have any message for the dead. 


I grant you friendship is a royal thing, 
But none shall ever know that royalty 
For what it is till he has realized 
His best friend in himself. ?T is then, perforce,
That man?s unfettered faith indemnifies 
Of its own conscious freedom the old shame, 
And love?s revealed infinitude supplants 
Of its own wealth and wisdom the old scorn. 


Though the sick beast infect us, we are fraught 
Forever with indissoluble Truth, 
Wherein redress reveals