(Poem #1874) Firelight
Ten years together without yet a cloud They seek each other's eyes at intervals Of gratefulness to firelight and four walls For love's obliteration of the crowd. Serenely and perennially endowed And bowered as few may be, their joy recalls No snake, no sword; and over them there falls The blessing of what neither says aloud. Wiser for silence, they were not so glad Were she to read the graven tale of lines On the wan face of one somewhere alone; Nor were they more content could he have had Her thoughts a moment since of one who shines Apart, and would be hers if he had known.
For those familiar with Robinson's work, today's poem treads familiar territory - he was at his best when depicting that class of people held up to common admiration (and perhaps a little envy), and then taking a brief, but devastating glance beneath the alluring surface. It would be easy to call him cynical - very few poets manage to strip humanity's various comfortable masks away as economically and effectively as he does - but there is always a genuine strain of sympathy to his poetry, a compelling sense of "there, but for the grace of God, go I", that belies any such charge. Rather, I believe the import of his poetry is not "see these men you have held up and adulated - rejoice, for they are no better off than you", but instead, "you who have hidden your pain from the world beneath a mask of gaiety, take comfort, for you are far from alone". martin [Links] Wikipedia article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edwin_Arlington_Robinson Edwin Arlington Robinson (December 22, 1869 - April 6, 1935) was an American poet, who won three Pulitzer Prizes for his work. For a lighter take on the theme, there's Christine Lavin's classic "Good Thing He Can't Read My Mind": [broken link] http://www.christinelavin.com/00051501goodthing.html