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Luke Havergal -- Edwin Arlington Robinson

Guest poem sent in by andreea cioloca
(Poem #1219) Luke Havergal
 Go to the western gate, Luke Havergal,
 There where the vines cling crimson on the wall,
 And in the twilight wait for what will come.
 The leaves will whisper there of her, and some,
 Like flying words, will strike you as they fall;
 But go, and if you listen she will call.
 Go to the western gate, Luke Havergal —
 Luke Havergal.

 No, there is not a dawn in eastern skies
 To rift the fiery night that's in your eyes;
 But there, where western glooms are gathering,
 The dark will end the dark, if anything:
 God slays Himself with every leaf that flies,
 And hell is more than half of paradise.
 No, there is not a dawn in eastern skies —
 In eastern skies.

 Out of a grave I come to tell you this,
 Out of a grave I come to quench the kiss
 That flames upon your forehead with a glow
 That blinds you to the way that you must go.
 Yes, there is yet one way to where she is,
 Bitter, but one that faith may never miss.
 Out of a grave I come to tell you this —
 To tell you this.

 There is the western gate, Luke Havergal,
 There are the crimson leaves upon the wall.
 Go, for the winds are tearing them away, —
 Nor think to riddle the dead words they say,
 Nor any more to feel them as they fall;
 But go, and if you trust her she will call.
 There is the western gate, Luke Havergal —
 Luke Havergal.
-- Edwin Arlington Robinson
           (From "The Children of the Night", Collected Poems, 1921)

I like this poem for many reasons. The western gate suggests a kind of portal
between life and death that reminds me of all the Greek myths where someone had
to go down into Hades by the river Styx entrance, and of the poem "Gates of
Damascus". I won't get into possible meanings -- there are so many! -- but I'd
love to see what other people think this poem is about!

andreea

39 comments: ( or Leave a comment )

mac said...

Havergal completes the triumvirate of Robinson's somewhat cynical worldview:
Luke here is the hopeless, Orpheus-like romantic eager for love, Minniver Cheevy has shifted that desire to a sort of idealist escapism, and Richard Cory is the disillusioned man who has everything and wants none of it. The progressive degredation from character to character shows this general view slowly falling apart. I love it. I wonder if Robinson actually thought of these poems as companions. Thoughts?

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