Miniver Cheevy

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Miniver Cheevy

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 mediaeval 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.

"Miniver Cheevy" is a narrative poem written by Edwin Arlington Robinson and first published in The Town down the River in 1910.[1] The poem, written in quatrains of iambic tetrameter for three lines, followed by a line of only three iambs, relates the story of a hopeless romantic who spends his days thinking about what might have been if only he had been born earlier in time.

Some scholars have suggested that the character of Miniver is meant to be Robinson's self-aware skewering of his own sense of being an anachronism or throwback, but others have indicated that, while this may be true, Miniver also represents a critique of Robinson's culture in general.[2] Regardless, the character portrait is similar to Robinson's Richard Cory in its presentation of a deeply discontented individual who is unable to integrate with society and is bent on self-destruction, albeit at different paces.[3] Robinson's preoccupation with these sorts of characters is one of the reasons why some have dubbed him "America's poet laureate of unhappiness."[4]

Reference in popular culture[edit]

In Woody Allen's 2011 film Midnight in Paris, the lead character Gil is compared to Miniver Cheevy by a condescending friend of his fiancee. In Joseph Heller's Catch-22, Major Major Major Major is also compared with Miniver Cheevy because of his late birth. Helene Hanff compared herself to Miniver Cheevy in her 1970 book 84, Charing Cross Road.

External links[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ 'Miniver Cheevy,' in "The Oxford Companion to American Literature," edited by James D. Hart, 4th edition (New York: Oxford University Press, 1965).
  2. ^ http://www.english.uiuc.edu/maps/poets/m_r/robinson/miniver.htm
  3. ^ http://litmed.med.nyu.edu/Annotation?action=view&annid=215
  4. ^ http://www.poetryfoundation.org/archive/poem.html?id=174244