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Edwin Arlington Robinson - Clavering

I say no more for Clavering 
Than I should say of him who fails 
To bring his wounded vessel home 
When reft of rudder and of sails; 

I say no more than I should say
Of any other one who sees 
Too far for guidance of to-day, 
Too near for the eternities. 

I think of him as I should think 
Of one who for scant wages played,
And faintly, a flawed instrument 
That fell while it was being made; 

I think of him as one who fared, 
Unfaltering and undeceived, 
Amid mirages of renown
And urgings of the unachieved; 

I think of him as one who gave 
To Lingard leave to be amused, 
And listened with a patient grace 
That we, the wise ones, had refused;

I think of metres that he wrote 
For Cubit, the ophidian guest: 
“What Lilith, or Dark Lady”… Well, 
Time swallows Cubit with the rest. 

I think of last words that he said
One midnight over Calverly: 
“Good-by—good man.” He was not good; 
So Clavering was wrong, you see. 

I wonder what had come to pass 
Could he have borrowed for a spell
The fiery-frantic indolence 
That made a ghost of Leffingwell; 

I wonder if he pitied us 
Who cautioned him till he was gray 
To build his house with ours on earth
And have an end of yesterday; 

I wonder what it was we saw 
To make us think that we were strong; 
I wonder if he saw too much, 
Or if he looked one way too long.

But when were thoughts or wonderings 
To ferret out the man within? 
Why prate of what he seemed to be, 
And all that he might not have been? 

He clung to phantoms and to friends,
And never came to anything. 
He left a wreath on Cubit’s grave. 
I say no more for Clavering. 

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Poet: Edwin Arlington Robinson
Poem: Clavering
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