Time was when his half million drew
The breath of six per cent;
But soon the worm of what-was-not
Fed hard on his content;
And something crumbled in his brain
When his half million went.

Time passed, and filled along with his
The place of many more;
Time came, and hardly one of us
Had credence to restore,
From what appeared one day, the man
Whom we had known before.

The broken voice, the withered neck,
The coat worn out with care,
The cleanliness of indigence,
The brilliance of despair,
The fond imponderable dreams
Of affluence,–all were there.

Poor Finzer, with his dreams and schemes,
Fares hard now in the race,
With heart and eye that have a task
When he looks in the eye
Of one who might so easily
Have been in Finzer’s place.

He comes unfailing for the loan
We give and then forget;
He comes, and probably for years
Will he be coming yet,–
Familiar as an old mistake,
And futile as regret.

Analysis, meaning and summary of Edwin Arlington Robinson's poem Bewick Finzer

1 Comment

  1. Karen Macartney says:

    The point of view is in the first person because the speaker is a bank employee telling the story of Bewick Finzer’s financial decline. “He comes unfailing for the loan-We give and then forget; He comes, and probably for years-Will he be coming yet,-.” The poem starts with the fact that Finzer once had a “half million” but something happened, “the worm of what-was-not” and so, his “half million went.” At first the reader may get a sense that the poem was written in the third person, but because the last stanza makes it clear that someone in the poem is telling the story, we are not sure of Finzer’s exact circumstance or feelings. Rather, we are given someone’s observations of Finzer, “Poor Finzer, with his dreams and schemes-Fares hard now in the race”, and their interpretation of how Finzer might be feeling. The speaker says that Finzer has a “broken voice” and a “withered neck” because he must regularly come to the bank and ask for a loan. I believe this poem represents society’s view of economic decline; that is, when someone has lost a fortune, only sadness and regret remain, but we can’t be sure if Finzer himself is indeed feeling the “brilliance of despair.” This poem is a statement about society’s view of the supreme importance and impact of money.

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