Not even if with a wizard force I might
Have summoned whomsoever I would name,
Should anyone else have come than he who came,
Uncalled, to share with me my fire that night;
For though I should have said that all was right,
Or right enough, nothing had been the same
As when I found him there before the flame,
Always a welcome and a useful sight.

Unfailing and exuberant all the time,
Having no gold he paid with golden rhyme,
Of older coinage than his old defeat,
A debt that like himself was obsolete
In Art’s long hazard, where no man may choose
Whether he play to win or toil to lose.

Analysis, meaning and summary of Edwin Arlington Robinson's poem Caput Mortuum

1 Comment

  1. Orson Scott Card says:

    The real question in this sonnet is whether Robinson is positioning himself as the narrator or the old poet. Probably both, as he ruminates on an artist’s fame, and how thoroughly gone it is when it goes away, and how bittersweet it is when the poet sees his reputation die while yet he has the power of creation in him.

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