Poet: Edwin Arlington Robinson
Poem: The House on the Hill
Comment 18 of 18, added on September 22nd, 2009 at 10:26 AM.
In analyzing this poem, I think it is important not to be too hasty in assigning meaning from the poet's personal life. This is not to say that his experiences will not have influenced his writing, or are even the very source material from which the poem is derived; however, to associate the details of the poem directly with the details of his life may be erroneous. Poems are, in my view, intentionally left open to interpretation so that they may have meaning for everyone. While some elements may relate directly to events in Robinson's life, they do not have to, and when made more general are more meaningful in that they may apply to the lives of many of us.
To take the poem at surface value, a question is raised of human attraction to bleak, desolate, and/or deserted places--why do these places attract (some of) us? Moreover, why do we indulge our imaginations ("fancy-play") with regard to these places, when there are none present, or those who are have no interest in or concern for such places.
These questions are not answered in the poem, although one can easily infer some reasons, both from simple experience, and the Robinson's own life. A house can be a home, and one's roots can attract one to an abandoned location; the "fancy-play" is merely a common facet our human existence--we like to make up stories and imagine histories.
On a symbolic level, I am sure there can be many interpretations (and, perhaps, most are equally true, regardless of the poet's original intent). The house may represent a person; its location on a hill can represent both isolation and superiority. The house being above its surroundings may suggest a "true" superiority, but it may also simply be that this symbolized person simply perceived him or herself to be superior.
Following this house-as-symbol-for-person concept, it is clear there is something awry with the person. They may be dead: "The House is shut and still," but this may also speak of mental illness, a weakened state (as caused by physical illness), or simply extreme aloofness--all of these (evidently) were things Robinson observed within his family.
No matter how you cut it, this is a bleak poem. My own hunch is that this poem intentionally operates on both a surface/literal level, and a symbolic level, and that the person represented is still alive, but not as they once were in life.
I want to mention, too, that it is important to distinguish the poet from the "speaker" or "narrator" of a poem. Often, they are one and the same, and given that there is no "I" in this poem, it is probably a safe assumption that the speaker is the poet, or is simply irrelevant. I may have been guilty of not fully considering this in my analysis, but this also ties in with not assuming that everything is immediately about the poet's life.
Also, I saw a comment that suggested this poem is satirical in some way. I did not get that from it, but I also don't know much about the exact era--the "House on the Hill" may represent a specific house (i.e. the White House, or the manor of someone important, etc.), and this poem is a polemic with regard to a person occupying that house. I'd love to know more about that, if it's the case.
Lucas from United States
Comment 17 of 18, added on May 7th, 2009 at 1:59 AM.
In Robinson's "The House on the Hill"he writes about him experiencing the early deaths of his family members. Using the ability to write in rhythm and his use of words, he's able to give this poem its mood and carry its meaning out perfectly. Robinson also repeats the verses "They are all gone away," and "There is nothing more to say" like Poe has done in the past, as in "The Raven" to emphasize the loss, tragic memories and emptiness he went through in his childhood.
Nacho Collazo from United States
Comment 16 of 18, added on May 7th, 2009 at 2:06 AM.
Edwin Robinson Arlington's life had been s glum one. All of his immediate family members had passed away from different things, leaving him in a state where it was him, and no one else. In, "The House on the Hill," Arlington's usage of refrain shows how he is a pessimist because there is no one else except him. Arlington also personifies the house to give it a deeper and darker meaning than what appears at the surface.
Justin Bahlinger from United States
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