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Thomas Hood -- Edwin Arlington Robinson

Sending this on Martin's behalf:
(Poem #1061) Thomas Hood
 The man who cloaked his bitterness within
 This winding-sheet of puns and pleasantries,
 God never gave to look with common eyes
 Upon a world of anguish and of sin:
 His brother was the branded man of Lynn;
 And there are woven with his jollities
 The nameless and eternal tragedies
 That render hope and hopelessness akin.

 We laugh, and crown him; but anon we feel
 A still chord sorrow-swept, -- a weird unrest;
 And thin dim shadows home to midnight steal,
 As if the very ghost of mirth were dead --
 As if the joys of time to dreams had fled,
 Or sailed away with Ines to the West.
-- Edwin Arlington Robinson
  winding sheet: a shroud

Today's sonnet showcases a lot of the things I enjoy about Robinson's work.
It displays, as usual, his uncanny ability to capture a person's essence in
a few short lines, and the way he can evoke sympathy without being overly
sentimental. But it also captures, at a slightly higher level, something of
the feel of Hood's own verse, especially in the sestet - compare, for
instance, the following bit from Hood's "Silence":

   No voice is hush'd--no life treads silently,
   But clouds and cloudy shadows wander free,
   That never spoke, over the idle ground

Of course, this is not a mere pastiche of Hood, but there are several
deliberate echoes of his style blended into the poem.

As for the poem's content itself, it is a fairly straightforward assessment
of Hood's poetic output:

   It would be easy to dismiss Hood as a lesser poet of the Romantic Era and
   early Victorian age, but his contribution was far greater than most
   realise. Mostly known during his lifetime for his comic writings, many
   self-published, it is his more serious writings that are best known
      -- [broken link]

Robinson's poem does indeed address both aspects, but, more than that, it
highlights the predominance of Hood's serious work, and the fact that it
wound through, and ultimately came to overshadow his "puns and
pleasantries". This is, in the end, as much an epitaph of Hood as it is an



  References to Hood's poems:
    'branded man of Lynn': "Eugene Aram", Poem #720
    'sailed away with Ines': "Fair Ines",

  Other poems on poets:
    Poem #12, John Keats, "On First Looking Into Chapman's Homer"
    Poem #50, W. H. Auden, "In Memory of W. B. Yeats"
    Poem #127, John Milton, "On Shakespear "
    Poem #128, William Wordsworth, "London, 1802"
    Poem #130, Robert Browning, "The Lost Leader"
    Poem #148, Ambrose Bierce, "With a Book"
    Poem #250, Edwin Arlington Robinson, "Walt Whitman"
    Poem #530, J. K. Stephen, "A Sonnet"
    Poem #630, T. S. Eliot, "To Walter de la Mare"

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