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Comment 18 of 33, 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
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
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 33, 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 33, 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
Comment 15 of 33, added on May 7th, 2009 at 8:28 AM.
Edgar Lee Masters may have had one of the most unique styles of writing
that has ever been used in the history of literature. He published a single
collection, the "Spoon River Anthology." Each poem is a tale, written on
the grave of some poor fictional soul, who, in turn, reads their own
epitaph as if they were still alive, just like the character Edwin has
implanted in this satirical story of woe. The inspiration for a collection
of post-mortem accounts was said to been born of conversation Robinson had
with his mother on the topic their former residences, in the towns of
Lewistown and Petersburg.
Nick Johnson from United States
Comment 14 of 33, added on May 7th, 2009 at 12:48 AM.
In this poem "The House on the Hill" by Edwin Arlington Robinson, refrain
is used. At the end of every stanza he says "There is nothing more to say",
this emphasizes the feeling and mood of the speaker in the poem which is
hopeless. Robinson admired people who have spiritual wisdom even though
they have somehow failed. Imagery is also used throughout this poem, which
gave the readers precise illustrations. "The House is shut and still, There
is nothing more to say." is an example of imagery used representing that
the “house” is lifeless. This excerpt reflected Robinson's view of life
being a pessimist.
Sunshine Salac from United States
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