Richard Cory

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For other uses, see Richard Cory (disambiguation).

"Richard Cory" is a narrative poem written by Edwin Arlington Robinson. It was first published in 1897, as part of The Children of the Night, having been completed in July of that year, and remains one of Robinson's most popular and anthologized poems.[1] The poem describes a person who is wealthy, well educated, mannerly, and admired by the people in his town. Despite all this, he takes his own life.

The song "Richard Cory", written by Paul Simon and recorded by Simon & Garfunkel for their second studio album, Sounds of Silence, was based on this poem. There is another song called "Richard Cory", written by Reimund Eberth and recorded by the German band Blues Unlimited for their studio album Blues Unlimited, also based on this poem. The CD was released in September 2014.

Context[edit]

Biography of Author[edit]

Edwin Arlington Robinson (1869–1935), American poet, attended Harvard (1891–1893). At his death, many critics considered Robinson the greatest poet in the United States. He is now best remembered for his short poems characterizing various residents of Tilbury Town, which was based on his hometown, Gardiner, Maine. A quiet, introverted man, Robinson never married and became legendary for his reclusiveness. Although his later poetry reveals a deep consciousness of social issues, an experimentation with symbolism, and an increasingly optimistic view of human destiny, his most lasting work is probably his early verse. "Miniver Cheevy" and "Richard Cory" are among the most famous of his brief, dramatic poems. [2]

Economic[edit]

The composition of the poem, while the United States economy was still suffering from the severe depression of the Panic of 1893 and during which people often subsisted on day-old bread, alluded to in the poem's prominence of poverty and wealth, and foodstuffs.[1]

Themes[edit]

The poem "Richard Cory" has multiple themes. One theme is that people should be judged based on who they are, not the items they possess. Another theme is that people or situations aren't always the same as they appear. An additional theme is that money can not buy happiness. [3]

Text of the poem[edit]

Whenever Richard Cory went down town,
We people on the pavement looked at him:
He was a gentleman from sole to crown,
Clean favored, and imperially slim.

And he was always quietly arrayed,
And he was always human when he talked;
But still he fluttered pulses when he said,
"Good-morning," and he glittered when he walked.

And he was rich – yes, richer than a king –
And admirably schooled in every grace:
In fine, we thought that he was everything
To make us wish that we were in his place.

So on we worked, and waited for the light,
And went without the meat, and cursed the bread;
And Richard Cory, one calm summer night,
Went home and put a bullet through his head.[4]

Adaptations[edit]

As music

The poem was adapted by the folk duo Simon & Garfunkel for their song "Richard Cory", which has also been performed by Them, Van Morrison, and The Chicago Loop. The song has been played live by Paul McCartney & Wings, Denny Laine singing lead. The Simon & Garfunkel version of the song's ending differs from the poem in that the speaker still wishes he "could be Richard Cory", even after Cory has killed himself. The Latter-day Saint folk trio "3Ds" performed a musical adaptation of the poem in their 1970s album Rhyme Rhythm and Reason.

The Jamaican singer Ken Boothe performed a version of the Paul Simon song in an early reggae style for his 1968 album More of Ken Boothe. It was recorded in the famous Studio One and produced by C. S. Dodd.

The Punk band The Menzingers wrote a song titled "Richard Coury" which was inspired by the poem. The difference in spelling from Cory to Coury is because the band has a personal friend whose last name is Coury.

The American composer John Duke wrote Three Poems by Edwin Arlington Robinson, which includes the full text of the poem Richard Cory.

Other

A. R. Gurney wrote a play based on the poem, also titled Richard Cory. The play, which is presented with a nonlinear timeline, suggests the reasons Cory killed himself, including family problems and changing views on humanity.

Carolyn Mullen wrote a short story titled "Poetic Justice" which, via a surprise ending, turns out to be an "alternative history" version of "Richard Cory". Edwin Arlington Robinson appears as a character in the story, which is included in The Rich and the Dead, a 2011 short-story anthology.

American humorist Garrison Keillor wrote a variation of the poem for the Introduction to his The Book of Guys (1993), which suggested a very direct source of Cory's unhappiness[5]

References[edit]

External links[edit]