Thursday, September 1, 2016

"He would have sinned incessantly..."

My favorite poet is Edwin Arlington Robinson (1869-1935), who won three Pulitzer Prizes but has, alas, fallen into undeserved obscurity. "Richard Cory" is the one poem of his that is still in virtually all anthologies, but this one, "Miniver Cheevy," also often makes the cut.

Since we'll be discussing The Medici Boy on Wednesday, I'm seizing the opportunity to shine a little reflected glory on a great poet (see Stanza 5 for the connection). For what it's worth, by the way, I strongly suspect Robinson was one of our own, though a recent biographer insists he was straight.

Anyway, for your reading pleasure:
Miniver Cheevy, child of scorn, 
   Grew lean while he assailed the seasons; 
He wept that he was ever born, 
   And he had reasons. 

Miniver loved the days of old 
   When swords were bright and steeds were prancing; 
The vision of a warrior bold 
   Would set him dancing. 

Miniver sighed for what was not, 
   And dreamed, and rested from his labors; 
He dreamed of Thebes and Camelot, 
   And Priam’s neighbors. 

Miniver mourned the ripe renown 
   That made so many a name so fragrant; 
He mourned Romance, now on the town, 
   And Art, a vagrant. 

Miniver loved the Medici, 
   Albeit he had never seen one; 
He would have sinned incessantly 
   Could he have been one. 

Miniver cursed the commonplace 
   And eyed a khaki suit with loathing; 
He missed the mediæval grace 
   Of iron clothing. 

Miniver scorned the gold he sought, 
   But sore annoyed was he without it; 
Miniver thought, and thought, and thought, 
   And thought about it. 

Miniver Cheevy, born too late, 
   Scratched his head and kept on thinking; 
Miniver coughed, and called it fate, 
   And kept on drinking.


Tim said...

Funny that — my identical response to such visions (of warriors bold). I guess he is gay … at least by "association" (mine)!

But more seriously, the Library of America's four-volume Anthology of American Poetry (up to May Swenson b. 1913) in its seventeen poems selected for E.A. Robinson includes "Miniver Cheevy" but excludes "Richard Cory"!

DCSteve1441 said...

Fascinating! I did not know that the LoA had made that selection/exclusion. I'll check it out!

Cheers, Steve