Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Reuben Bright

by Edwin Arlington Robinson

Because he was a butcher and thereby
Did earn an honest living (and did right),
I would not have you think that Reuben Bright
Was any more a brute than you or I;
For when they told him that his wife must die,
He stared at them, and shook with grief and fright,
And cried like a great baby all the night
And made the women cry to see him cry.

And after she was dead, and he had paid
The singers and the sexton and the rest,
He packed a lot of things that she had made
Most mournfully away in an old chest
Of hers, and put some chopped-up cedar boughs
In with them, and tore down the slaughter-house.

* * *

Sorry it's been so long since my last post -- it's hard to get back into the rhythm of things at school after so long away.

We read this poem in American literature class. I like it, because it deals with a kind of snobbery very common these days: the sort of snobbery where educated people think that they have more feelings than blue-collar types. A butcher seems a brutish person to us intellectual highbrows, the poet suggests. But what's the truth? He's as sensitive to loss as the rest of us, despite his gory job and the practical things (paying the funeral workers) that he has to think of. He is an honest man making an honest living, and has as tender a heart, if not more, than any well-educated poetry enthusiast.

Sunday, January 07, 2007


by Juliana Horatia Ewing

You ask me what since we must part
You shall bring back to me.
Bring back a pure and faithful heart
As true as mine to thee.

You talk of gems from foreign lands,
Of treasure, spoil, and prize.
Ah love! I shall not search your hands
But look into your eyes.

* * *

I found this poem in a new anthology. The poet lived in the nineteenth century. I like its simplicity: simple form -- nothing unusual; simple message. It reflects that material things aren't that important; love is everything. If one has that, he wants for nothing else; and if he lacks that, nothing else will be any comfort.