Cliff Klingenhagen had me in to dine
With him one day; and after soup and meat,
And all the other things there were to eat,
Cliff took two glasses and filled one with wine
And one with wormwood. Then, without a sign
For me to choose at all, he took the draught
Of bitterness himself, and lightly quaffed
It off, and said the other one was mine.

And when I asked him what the deuce he meant
By doing that, he only looked at me
And smiled, and said it was a way of his.
And though I know the fellow, I have spent
Long time a-wondering when I shall be
As happy as Cliff Klingenhagen is.

Analysis, meaning and summary of Edwin Arlington Robinson's poem Cliff Klingenhagen

3 Comments

  1. Jim Nichols says:

    I know who Cliff Klingenhagen is and why he was so happy.
    It was my Lord who drank the bitter cup so that you and I could taste from the Fruit of the Vine around His table.
    It was bringing us into glory that was His joy that allowed Him to endure the cross, despising its shame. This is why He rose up from the dust of the Garden and said, “Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?” — Jn. 18:11.
    Christ figures abound in poetry. Why not here too?

  2. Inta Gulbis says:

    The author of the poem, Robinson, was a great admirer of Roosevelt. I think the poem shows his admiration of Teddy but does it indirectly by calling him Cliff in the poem. He says Teddy is willing to quaff a stiff, bitter drink for his friends such as himself. This shows the selfless character of Teddy Roosevelt.

  3. teresa Jewell says:

    Poor Cliff Klingenhagen goes through life being the center of a pity party. He assumes and accepts that the darkest of clouds will continue to hang over his head for the rest of his life, and he relishes in it. He does not look for a happy outcome in life, instead he welcomes the bitterness life has to offer, after all, he deserves it, and becomes a martyr. He is different, thus is curious to others.Poor pityful Cliff. He is the cortex of bad luck, and is happy in the making of it.

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