Edwin Arlington Robinson’s “Richard Cory” (1897): A Poem on the Turning Wheel of Fortune and Misleading Appearances

Who’s up, who’s down? It can change pretty quickly. And who knows what’s going on beneath appearances? Here’s a poem titled “Richard Cory” (by Edwin Arlington Robinson, written in 1897):

Whenever Richard Cory went down town,
We people on the pavement looked at him:
He was a gentleman from sole to crown,
Clean favored and imperially slim.

And he was always quietly arrayed,
And he was always human when he talked,
But still he fluttered pulses when he said,
“Good-morning,” and he glittered when he walked.

And he was rich–yes, richer than a king–
And admirably schooled in every grace:
In fine, we thought that he was everything
To make us wish that we were in his place.

So on we worked, and waited for the light,
And went without the meat and cursed the bread;
And Richard Cory, one calm summer night,
Went home and put a bullet through his head.

About Santi Tafarella

I teach writing and literature at Antelope Valley College in California.
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