Another Dark Lady
The Story of the Ashes and the Flame
Mr Flood's Party
Where long the shadows of the wind had rolled Green wheat was yielding to the change assigned; And as my some vast magic undivined The world was turning slowly to gold. Like nothing that was ever bought or sold It waited there, the body and the mind; And with a mighty meaning of a kind That tells the more the more it is not told. So in a land where all days are not fair, Fair days went on till on another day A thousand golden sheaves were lying there, Shining and still, but not for long to stay — As if a thousand girls with golden hair Might rise from where they slept and go away.
From Collected Poems
Think not, because I wonder where you fled, That I would lift a pin to see you there; You may, for me, be prowling anywhere, So long as you show not your little head: No dark and evil story of the dead Would leave you less pernicious or less fair-- Not even Lilith, with her famous hair; And Lilith was the devil, I have read. I cannot hate you, for I loved you then. The woods were golden then. There was a road Through beeches; and I said their smooth feet showed Like yours. Truth must have heard me from afar, For I shall never have to learn again That yours are cloven as no beech's are.
From The Man against the Sky (1916)
The miller’s wife had waited long, The tea was cold, the fire was dead; And there might yet be nothing wrong In how he went and what he said: “There are no millers any more,” Was all that she had heard him say; And he had lingered at the door So long that it seemed yesterday. Sick with a fear that had no form She knew that she was there at last; And in the mill there was a warm And mealy fragrance of the past. What else there was would only seem To say again what he had meant; And what was hanging from a beam Would not have heeded where she went. And if she thought it followed her, She may have reasoned in the dark That one way of the few there were Would hide her and would leave no mark: Black water, smooth above the weir Like starry velvet in the night, Though ruffled once, would soon appear The same as ever to the sight.
From Collected Poems (1919 & 1922)
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.
From The Town down the River (1910)
No matter why, nor whence, nor when she came, There was her place. No matter what men said, No matter what she was; living or dead, Faithful or not, he loved her all the same. The story was as old as human shame, But ever since that lonely night she fled, With books to blind him, he had only read The story of the ashes and the flame. There she was always coming pretty soon To fool him back, with penitent scared eyes That had in them the laughter of the moon For baffled lovers, and to make him think, Before she gave him time enough to wink, Her kisses were the keys to Paradise.
From Sonnets from The Children of the Night (1897)
Old Eben Flood, climbing alone one night Over the hill between the town below And the forsaken upland hermitage That held as much as he should ever know On earth again of home, paused warily. The road was his with not a native near; And Eben, having leisure, said aloud, For no man else in Tilbury Town to hear: "Well, Mr. Flood, we have the harvest moon Again, and we may not have many more; The bird is on the wing, the poet says, And you and I have said it here before. Drink to the bird." He raised up to the light The jug that he had gone so far to fill, And answered huskily: "Well, Mr. Flood, Since you propose it, I believe I will." Alone, as if enduring to the end A valiant armor of scarred hopes outworn, He stood there in the middle of the road Like Roland's ghost winding a silent horn. Below him, in the town among the trees, Where friends of other days had honored him, A phantom salutation of the dead Rang thinly till old Eben's eyes were dim. Then, as a mother lays her sleeping child Down tenderly, fearing it may awake, He set the jug down slowly at his feet With trembling care, knowing that most things break; And only when assured that on firm earth It stood, as the uncertain lives of men Assuredly did not, he paced away, And with his hand extended paused again: "Well, Mr. Flood, we have not met like this In a long time; and many a change has come To both of us, I fear, since last it was We had a drop together. Welcome home!" Convivially returning with himself, Again he raised the jug up to the light; And with an acquiescent quaver said: "Well, Mr. Flood, if you insist, I might. "Only a very little, Mr. Flood -- For auld lang syne. No more, sir; that will do." So, for the time, apparently it did, And Eben evidently thought so too; For soon amid the silver loneliness Of night he lifted up his voice and sang, Secure, with only two moons listening, Until the whole harmonious landscape rang -- "For auld lang syne." The weary throat gave out, The last word wavered; and the song being done, He raised again the jug regretfully And shook his head, and was again alone. There was not much that was ahead of him, And there was nothing in the town below -- Where strangers would have shut the many doors That many friends had opened long ago.
From Collected Poems (1921)
(°1869 Head Tide, Maine - †1935 New York)
Robinson won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry three times.
In 1922 for his first Collected Poems, in 1925 for The Man
Who Died Twice, and in 1928 for Tristram.
He was awarded the gold medal of the American Institute
of Arts and Letters in 1929.