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Analysis and comments on Luke Havergal by Edwin Arlington Robinson

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Comment 12 of 22, added on March 24th, 2008 at 7:11 PM.

I absolutely adore poetry. If I could, I would be a professor of poetry at
a university. I love to analyze and decipher the meanings of poems.
However, when I read this, I am not filled with images of apostles, gods,
or hells. I am overwhelmed with the melancholy image of a man searching for
his love, who waits for him in the setting sun of life. Their star crossed
love can be resurrected only in death. I believe the speaker is the man's
inner concience. However, I could be totally oblivious and off course. It
seems though that poetry, as reality, is naught but perception. The beauty
of this poem and its eloquence lies in the mind of the reader.

Anna Mauer from United States
Comment 11 of 22, added on August 8th, 2007 at 10:49 AM.

If one continues with the idea of Luke being a reference to the apostle,
then, one must consider the etymological roots of Havergal. Really -
haver|gal. Haver comes from Hebrew with a Biblical meaning of "companion."
Gal - derived from Gall - has multiple meanings, here, I think it may refer
to the "bitterness of spirit, bitterness." A.E. Robinson even writes
"Bitter, but one..." so this offers an even stronger connection between
what is bitter (death, suicide) and a Haver (companion): a bitter (death,
dead) companion. Just a thought! :)

Brandon from United States
Comment 10 of 22, added on February 15th, 2007 at 3:38 PM.

I thought that the title might have a little meaning because LUKE
IS IN THE bible and i thought that maby Havergal might be something of a
meaning but i cant find any thing of this.

Matthew from United States
Comment 9 of 22, added on May 6th, 2006 at 5:40 AM.

Friends, let us consider the wise words of Mr Housman:

Even when poetry has a meaning, as it usually has, it may be inadvisable to
draw it out . . . Perfect understanding will sometimes almost extinguish

I'd say, as one reading Mr Robinson for the first time, that this applied
here particularly. There's a strong elegaic feeling, melodically
expressed, with potent pictures - but I feel it would crumble under
plodding analysis.

On another tack, this is a great site, but plagued by pesky popups. Any
chance of an ad-free subscription service?

John Wheater from United Kingdom
Comment 8 of 22, added on December 27th, 2005 at 4:57 PM.

I would suggest everyone listen to this, and other E.A. Robinson poems set
to music by John Duke. Although I understand and find truth in all your
interpretations, I feel that when singing this song Luke is moving towards
hope, even if that hope is death. Life is all about moving forward.

Ben from United States
Comment 7 of 22, added on October 4th, 2005 at 8:20 PM.

It took me a while to full understand this poem and after reading about 20
times, I think I finally have a grasp on it. The speaker in this poem is
the devil. He sees that Luke Havergal is heartbroken and lonely and
greif-stricken and he wants to take advantage of this. Luke's love is dead
and the only way Luke can ever be with her again is to die. The devil is
trying to pursuade Luke into taking his own life, which would mean he is
going against the Lord's Will, thus Luke would end up in hell. You can come
to understand by the use of color and choice of words that EA uses. Crimson
is mentioned many times throughout the poem. Crimson, or any other red
color, usually respresents evil, or hell. The word 'fall' suggests defeat
Luke's life. 'Fall' also represents a downward motion, and we all know that
hell below heaven. Lastly, God doesn't need to convince people to come to
heaven, nor would God ever slay himself. Suicide and God should never be
used in the same sentence. That alone suggests sinister acts.

Jenny from United States
Comment 6 of 22, added on September 8th, 2005 at 8:10 PM.

I believe the crimson (red) leaves on the door represent hell. Anyone who
kills themself is going to hell. Not the point though, he wants to either
be with his dead lover or be dead and out of his misery. "God slays
himself with every leaf that flies"- God is hurt everytime one of his sons
(represented possibly by leaves?) falls (commits suicide). Which is why
there are crimson leaves on the gate to hell.

lisa from United States
Comment 5 of 22, added on April 10th, 2005 at 3:40 PM.

This is a poet about Robinson's futileness of life. This poem clearly
expresses death and the loss of love. It shows Robinsons loss of love -
indeed he did lose love. And it talks about death - a Romantic aspect. In
this poem we see Romantic aspects such as loss of love and death but we
also see a realistic aspect of the futileness of love(or so it seems in
Robinsons eyes). Rather interesting poem. It was published with other poems
about his fictional Tillbury town characters who mirrored his experiences
and feelings. This poem appeared with poems such as Richard Cory and
Miniver Cheevy. Those are good reads to further understand Robinsons style
and experience

Rk from United States
Comment 4 of 22, added on March 31st, 2005 at 4:27 PM.

The western gate is death. The sun rises in the east-life and youth, and
sets in the west-death. The crimson leaves represent the fall of his life,
leaning towards winter(death). I think the speaker is Luke havergal's
consious, or at least the part of him that wishes to die to be with his
lover again. Perhaps the speaker is the voice that represents his desent
into madness(perhaps) and death. When the speaker says "out of a grave I
come to tell you this" i believe he is pretending to be luke havergal's
dead lover, to convince him more to kill himself. The speaker believes the
only way for luke havergal to be happy again is to die(go to the western
gate). The "dead words (the crimson leaves) say" are any reasons Luke
Havergal might have not to kill himself.

laurie from United States
Comment 3 of 22, added on March 8th, 2005 at 9:11 AM.

I mean no disrespect, but I totally disagree with the comments on east and
west. The sun sets in the west, thus representing death. The sun rises in
the east, thus representing hope and life. Luke's love is dead, and the
only way to her is to die. Even if there is no way to get to her, "the
dark will end the dark." If death does not bring him to her, at least he
will not have to suffer through life anymore. The "one way to where she
is" that's "bitter" and that "faith can never miss" is death. The speaker
(I don't know who) is pointing Luke to where his lover is, and the only way
to get there is to die.

Justin from United States

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Information about Luke Havergal

Poet: Edwin Arlington Robinson
Poem: Luke Havergal
Added: Feb 4 2004
Viewed: 20490 times

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