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Edwin Arlington Robinson - Atherton's Gambit

The Master played the bishop’s pawn, 
For jest, while Atherton looked on; 
The master played this way and that, 
And Atherton, amazed thereat, 
Said “Now I have a thing in view
That will enlighten one or two, 
And make a difference or so 
In what it is they do not know.” 

The morning stars together sang 
And forth a mighty music rang—
Not heard by many, save as told 
Again through magic manifold 
By such a few as have to play 
For others, in the Master’s way, 
The music that the Master made
When all the morning stars obeyed. 

Atherton played the bishop’s pawn 
While more than one or two looked on; 
Atherton played this way and that, 
And many a friend, amused thereat,
Went on about his business 
Nor cared for Atherton the less; 
A few stood longer by the game, 
With Atherton to them the same. 

The morning stars are singing still,
To crown, to challenge, and to kill; 
And if perforce there falls a voice 
On pious ears that have no choice 
Except to urge an erring hand 
To wreak its homage on the land,
Who of us that is worth his while 
Will, if he listen, more than smile? 

Who of us, being what he is, 
May scoff at others’ ecstasies? 
However we may shine to-day,
More-shining ones are on the way; 
And so it were not wholly well 
To be at odds with Azrael,— 
Nor were it kind of any one 
To sing the end of Atherton. 

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Poet: Edwin Arlington Robinson
Poem: Atherton's Gambit
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