‘Richard Cory’ by Edwin Arlington Robinson Essay (Article)
Updated: Dec 20th, 2018
In the poem ‘Richard Cory’, Edwin Arlington Robinson depicts the theme of spiritual emptiness. The poet uses traditional form combined with lean modern language, a characteristic of American Literary Modernism. The poem is a simple and dramatic account of rich and famous Richard Cory who is adored and envied by the commoners. The poem artistically presents the picture of a perfect man, who is a rich and polite, “gentleman from sole to crown” (line 3). He was “always human when he talked” (line 6).
He has the perfect resources for leading a happy life in times when the commoners were struggling to make ends meet. However Richard Cory ends his life in a rather dramatic and shocking manner when “one calm summer night” he “Went home and put a bullet through his head” (line 15-16). The final two lines of the poem candidly inform the reader of Cory’s sudden suicide, symbolizing his spiritual barrenness and discontent with life.
In the poem, Robinson paints an enviable and admirable picture of Richard Cory as a fine gentleman who was “richer than a king” (line 9), but commits suicide. The poet exhibits a “renewed sense of responsibility for fellow human beings” through the poignant theme prevailing over the poem (Perkins & Perkins 130).
By juxtaposing two strikingly different elements in the poem, economic social success and spiritual vacuum, Robinson leaves the reader with a crucial thought; do social success and wealth connote real happiness? Cory was extremely rich and had all the reasons to be happy, but chose to die by putting a bullet through his head, exposing his misery and spiritual hollowness.
Through his modern poetry, Robinson demonstrates the “determination to scatter conventional taboos” (Perkins & Perkins 130). Robinson clearly flits into the genre of American Literary Modernism because the poem is “a renaissance that targeted the fundamental institutions and cultural assumptions of society” (Perkins & Perkins 130).
Robinson’s simple yet alluring poetic style makes the poem interesting to read and difficult to forget. What appeals to me most is the juxtaposition of a straightforward classical style with a strong personal and modern intriguing subject. The poem is a calm and lucid account of Richard Cory, who is a rich and happy gentleman by society standards. He has immense monetary possessions which will make him worthy of envy.
The simple account of Cory’s flamboyant life is contrasted with his shocking end. Without making the poem too dramatic in content, the poet sends out a clear message – worldly success is not a barometer for happiness. Worldly riches may make life comfortable but fail to bring peace and harmony. The poem is an example of a perfect rhetoric, simple and eloquent, alongside an honest theme projecting brutal reality.
In the song, Paul Simon, seems to be intrigued by the richness, flamboyance and social success of Richard Cory. Simon has made some additions to the original poem. He has added lines to show Cory’s political connections and yacht parties to the song. He has also adds that Cory owns “one half of this whole town”, as an exaggeration of his social and financial status.
Simon has omitted the physical qualities of grace and good character from the song, originally present in the poem, “And he was always quietly arrayed, And he was always human when he talked” (line 4-5). Simon omitted and added lines to the poem to exaggerate it and make it more catchy and appealing to the listeners. Also, the song has been modified to reflect current times when success and richness are associated with politics and grandiosity.
Perkins, George, & Barbara, Perkins. The American Tradition in Literature, Volume II. 12th ed. New York: McGraw-Hill. 2007. Print.
Robinson, Edwin Arlington. “Richard Cory.” The American Tradition in Literature, Volume II. 12th ed. Eds. Perkins George and Barbara Perkins. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2007. 137. Print.
This article on ‘Richard Cory’ by Edwin Arlington Robinson was written and submitted by your fellow student. You are free to use it for research and reference purposes in order to write your own paper; however, you must cite it accordingly.
Updated: Feb 1st, 2019 Blackberries is one of the masterpieces by Ellen Hunnicutt. The poem narrates the story of a woman and her husband on their camping trip. August, on […]
Updated: Nov 28th, 2019 Introduction The world of literature is the source of new ideas, thoughts and inspirations. The authors make us think over our life. Undoubtedly, everyone has the […]
Updated: Nov 28th, 2019 Summary of the Book The central theme in Toni Morrison’s book, “Song of Solomon”, is the quest for self-identity. In the novel, the author narrates the […]
Updated: May 7th, 2019 Introduction Found Objects is a short story by Jennifer Egan that gives an account of a young woman trying to find identity in an ever busy […]
Updated: Jan 27th, 2019 In the new wave of globalization, movement across borders has become the norm. Most importantly, children often find themselves in unfamiliar territories when their parents relocate […]
Updated: Nov 26th, 2019 Introduction Malcolm X, Helen Keller and David Raymond are all writers that struggled with self expression, identity and social conformity. These challenges emanated from the lack […]
Updated: Nov 26th, 2019 Introduction Richard Louv is a renowned author of the 21st century. The author has written a number of books that have caught the eye of the […]
Updated: Jan 17th, 2019 Article Summary Life is particularly intriguing and complicated especially when looking at the choices that people make in life in the light of the story, “Life […]
Updated: Dec 20th, 2018 Pico Iyer was a well accomplished young writer when he wrote this book. His artistic work was well appreciated when he wrote the book entitled “Video […]
Updated: Dec 20th, 2018 In the poem ‘Richard Cory’, Edwin Arlington Robinson depicts the theme of spiritual emptiness. The poet uses traditional form combined with lean modern language, a characteristic […]