Whenever Richard Cory went down town,
We people on the pavement looked at him:
He was a gentleman from sole to crown,
Clean favored, and imperially slim.

And he was always quietly arrayed,
And he was always human when he talked;
But still he fluttered pulses when he said,
“Good-morning,” and he glittered when he walked.

And he was rich-yes, richer than a king-
And admirably schooled in every grace:
In fine, we thought that he was everything
To make us wish that we were in his place.

So on we worked, and waited for the light,
And went without the meat, and cursed the bread;
And Richard Cory, one calm summer night,
Went home and put a bullet through his head.

Analysis, meaning and summary of Edwin Arlington Robinson's poem Richard Cory

78 Comments

  1. if says:

    The poem may be read as an ironic commentary on the American dream of wealth,success,power.

  2. mary degnan says:

    Beautiful!The person you admire and, on a benign level envy, may well be carrying a heavy burden.Has a loved one died? Has he experienced heavy financial losses? Has he had bad news from his doctor? Is he subject to periods clinical depression? You can think of many more. You have experienced them yourself.
    So:judge kindly always.

  3. David says:

    I’ve read here some speculations of Richard Corey’s death and many have speculated that money, fame and appearance do not necessary be equated to happiness but no one speculating that maybe he was a gay. And probably he really was, and after hiding it for a long time he didn’t want to disappoint the people around him thus made him decide curtailing his life.

  4. Tyler Young says:

    This poem emulates how people can appear to have everything materially, but be very lonely and depressed on the inside. Many teens these days also have feelings like this, maybe not as extreme but they try to appear to be cool and have cool things to impress friends but really your lonely and no one understands you.

    Practiceee

  5. Cindy H says:

    Robison uses imagery to have Richard Cory seem like a well known and freindly man that everyone admires. Cory is expressed as a man who is enveied by everyone, but they are unable to see how unhappy Cory is with himself and his life. The people Cory says good morining to as he passes by just see his outer shell, unfortunately they don’t see how he is buring inside and is struggling to fight his will to live.

  6. Rekisha says:

    This peon is so sad! at the beginning everyone thinks he is so happy with his wealth but at the end they realise he is not when he dies. this portrays the fact that most people do not realise in today’s world. money does not buy happiness, and someone may appear to be elated but truely they are depressed inside. their inner mind is not shown to the world and money is not THEIR HAPPINESS in life like richard cory.

  7. Christian & Anna says:

    We liked the part when the man was killed. i can’tbelieve someone would want to kill a nice rich man =( it was soooooooooooooooooooooo sad. He was soooo happy until that person killed him! heheheheh *tears*

  8. michelle says:

    well richard cory seems like a rich man who possess some of the qualities that the people on the pavement desire. they saw him as perfect but deep down he was lonely and face problens of his own and so one day he put a end to his life

  9. Brandon Kreindel says:

    In this poem shows that Richard was a normal appearing man to most everyone and had a lot of money. When he went home he was depressed and would hide his inner feelings. The author uses words to make you almost feel sorry for richard.

  10. brandon Kreindel says:

    This poem shows that Richard was a normal appearing man to most everyone and had a lot of money. When he went home he was depressed and would hide his inner feelings. The author uses words to make you almost feel sorry for richard.

  11. Jillian Capdevielle says:

    In this poem, it is talking about a well liked man, who is rich, and has a pretty good life. In the end, the man shoots himself in the head out of nowhere. Nobody saw it coming. This is showing, that just because a man may seem happy, because of his possessions, he may as well be the poorest man in the world. Money and fame annot buy you happiness. It takes a true person, who actually cares, to really see wehat a person is feeling. Obviously these people did not care for him as much as they acted.

  12. aria collin says:

    I think this poem like sanburgs Chicago tells us not to judge a book by its cover. Richard corey is a peoples person who is always polite and well mannered untill he kills himself. i think Robinson is asking the reader to look deeper into a human being and notice how they really are. not how they pretend to be.

  13. Reece Ludwig says:

    This poem is very relevant to everyday life. The saying money can’t buy happiness has been around forever and it always stays consistant. The poem is very down to earth and the message can be felt in all walks of life.

  14. Andrew Lara says:

    Richard Cory is all around good guy who seems to have no trouble on the surface. this poem shows that people only see what is on the outside. Richard Cory never showed the world his trouble and it ended up killing him.

  15. jeff key says:

    this poem talks about how people can look so happy on the out side but be a different person on the inside. cory was admired by most people and seemed to be happy. cory hid his feelings and showed how he truely felt when he killed himself.

  16. Ashley Dien says:

    “RIchard Cory” is one of my favorite poems. Robinson portrays an aphorism of how “looks can be decieving” and “money can’t buy happiness”. Richards seems as if he has it all, but it really doesn’t matter if in the end if you spend it all alone. The poem says alone and lonely are too different things. Popularity is materialistic. You don’t gain anything to make you feel complete with money and money alone.

  17. Johanna Arroyo says:

    The poem “Richard Cory”, by Edwin Arlington Robinson, talks about the life of a rich man. The man seems to be happy on the outside, whenever people see him. In the inside, he is not happy at all, even though he has a lot of money. Richard relates to Gatsby who was a rich man but he was not happy because he did not have the love of his life, Daisy. Money can’t buy happiness.

  18. norah says:

    i think what all this poem about is about the isolation of richard cory which killed him and that it is evidant in the narrator’s lines. the narrator uses cory’s fall name to talk about him, if there is any kind of relationsh between them the narrator will not use the fall name and the relationship will show to the narrator that cory is unhabby in his life

  19. Anja Plommer says:

    This poem ends really unexpectally. When you read the first few lines, you really want to be in Richard Cory’s place, because the author describes it very well. But this poem shows again, that money can’t buy you happiness, and even though everybody thought how great Cory’s life was, they never really knew, because they couldn’t see inside. They just expected him to be happy, because he had money. So I think they never really cared much about him, because he didn’t seem fragile and so I think he didn’t have any real friends. A real friend would have recognized how someone feels and who he truely is. The author also describes it that way; from the perspective of people, who just watch. That reminds me of Gatsby, because everyone was just talking about him and his great life, but they never really knew about him. They were just speculating all the time.

  20. jake harrison says:

    In the poem Richard Cory, Robinson is talking about how having all the money in the world can’t buy you happiness. Richard appeared very happy on the outside but on the inside he was not. This is evident when it states that he took his own life. I enjoyed reading this poem.

  21. Melissa says:

    This poem’s not really about envy, or greed, but the wealth that can be found in community and the desolation of isolation. This is evident in the way Robinson associates the working class and work with “light” and the way that Richard Cory took his own life “one calm summer night”. Even with all his riches, Cory could not find purpose or beauty in his existence.

  22. W.Murphy says:

    this poem talks about people who are jelous of a man that is richer and better off in life than they are. in thier envious rage they cowerdly put a bullet in Richard Corey,s head

  23. Kevin says:

    Robinson portrayed a renowned, wealthy, and dissatisfied man. The poem was about a respected man, Richard Cory who was envied by everyone in town, who looked at him as perfection. However something had disturbed Richard until he finally took his own life. this poem explains that no one is perfect and also that money can’t buy happiness.

  24. Niko Carrafield says:

    When i first started to read this poem it began with a man who every one envied, this man was rich which made you assume he lived nicely and probably had alot of friends but at the very end of the poem on the last line it the poem suddenly ends with the man committing suicide and shooting himself in the head which flips your view of the poem and thoughts about Richard Cory.

  25. W. Murphy says:

    this poem i like. i think it is pretty cool how it rhymes. I especially like the last line, the onethat says stuff about the bullet through the guys head.

  26. Ian Hart says:

    He seems like he is perfect and he has the most wonderful life. People look at him on the streets and wish they could be just like him with all his wealth and happyness. What most people don’t know is that when he goes home he is not happy, money doesn’t buy happyness

  27. aria says:

    this poem at first is deceptive. the reader is lead to believe that richard corey is a regular person without a serious trouble in the world. when we reach the end he kills himself unexpectidly. i think this poem shows that you can never really know who someone is.

  28. Trish says:

    i absolutly love this poem. I guess its a little old for me, but hey, the older the better!

  29. bob says:

    wow tis poem was splendid althught i dd not enjoy or understand it…now that i think of it …it was a shitty poem!!

  30. Kayla says:

    Baamm! That what the ending was like! I could not believe what had happened! Just as you were wishing to be that guy…. you begin to relize how unhappy he was. Life is an odd thing. We cant take anything for granted and we need to be happy with who we are because just becuase the grass may look greener on the other side there could be a lot of crap under all of it.

  31. finley says:

    I don’t care for poetry and I have to read it for my lit class, but this poem stuck with me. to those people who said he was unloved and money doesn’t buy happyness, It says right in it that he was greatly admired and friendly. That’s why I don’t think that it’s about money buying anything, so much as it’s about self-perception and how that effects a person’s psyche. sort of like how you can tell an anorexic she is grossly skinny but she will swear she is fat. Mind makes the reallity and if you believe it’s bad it is.

    peace

  32. mamta says:

    this poem z cool!!!!! v read dis poem in klass nd it waz sick. everyone waz ssoooooooooooooooo shocked. it waz funny!!!!! jus gotaa say this poem is ironically ended

  33. kimberly C. Mutia says:

    the indeed shows a type of irony that really reveals the present situation of this generation.Yes,we can never conclude that if a person is rich,has a pleasing personality he can never have problems…remember,everyone is equal in this world,and therefore,everyone can also experience pains…

  34. Emma from Saudi Arabia says:

    Hi every body this comment will be my first comment in your page, i hope u like it….
    this poem is an ironi poem … in the lines we can understand that richard has a good life instade of the people in the town who are working to get there food…
    so there is no reason for richard cory to commit a suiside ….
    that’s my point viow thanks for read it……

  35. lovely says:

    theme i got from this poem; the grass is no greener on the other side

  36. ching pang says:

    this poem is nice

  37. Ryo Nakamura says:

    this poem tells us tht money is not giving us happiness. In Japan, people are greedy,,,so mean,,,

  38. Lashay says:

    I enjoyed the poem, because I feel as if it means that money don’t make happiness and that’s what the problem is in todays world. Everyone wants money not happiness.

  39. Mary says:

    I’m not going to go over the entire poem, but I would like to say that I had to analyize this poem for school, and I also had to write a parody of it. The basic point that Robinson is trying to get across is that even though people may seem to have everything, they still may be lacking in one or more areas. The lack of mention of family members alludes to the fact of a lonely person. The fact of the suicide happening on a summer night also alludes to the loneliness in its own little way. Many people say that summer nights are the most romantic. It only makes sense that he would kill himself on a summer night if he was a lonely person. Just something to think about. There are several other things alluded to in the poem. In example, Robinson uses the use of language to give the illusion of a rich king.

  40. Starr says:

    I really enjoyed the poem. It takes you from a well-amdired man of the town to a dead man. I like how the author does a complete turn around and shocks his readers. It makes us all ask ourselves “I wonder what he was missing in his life?” And thats the best part of poetry, the author leaves us with no answers so that we may make our own interpretations and use our imagination!

  41. Bridget says:

    I like the comment that someone made that the title of the poem is a pun in that it is saying “rich hard”, implying how hard it is to be rich. The poet has indeed captured the essence of the some people’s idealogy that “the grass is greener on the other side”. As we all know it is a great big irony for most time it only looks green from afar but far from looking green.

  42. Jessica says:

    I think this poem creates a realistic view of life. Although a person has wealth or power, a higher status above others, he can still share the same problems. It doesn’t matter what you do to try to fill a void in your life. It is you who stares back through the mirror everyday.

  43. StephieD says:

    this poem relates alot to us humans in real life as we tend to envy our fellow brethren for he/she has, not realizing that they may not be enjoying the life that they have and may even want to trade with you for a day in your shoes, to see life the fun, unsophisticated way, eith no-one wanting what you have and with no-one only being your frind because of what you have.

  44. Mian Touhid Ullah says:

    This poem is a great poem. The theme is that money will not give you happiness.

  45. Randa says:

    It is a great poem and now I have to do a lit anal. on it but it was great w a theme of money doesn’t equal happiness supported by the isolation of he, the irony, and the past tense of the poem. I think everyone should read it. IT really portrays the let down of the Amreican Dream.

  46. Candance B says:

    I too like most, was given this poem to identify the claim from my EN1105 class. The claim I get is every thing that glitters ain’t gold. And he most likely admired those whom admired him more than they would ever know!

  47. Candance B says:

    I too like most, was given this poem to identify the claim from my EN1105 class. The claim I get is every thing that glitters ain’t gold. And he probly admired thosen whom admired him more thatn they would ever know!

  48. lorena says:

    i have to find this poem bcoz we have to make a dramatic interpretaion regarding this.it was so exciting for me as student and also a pleasure to interpret this powerful poem of mr.robinson….tnx a lot and god bless to all of us who relate their self to the poem…

  49. katrina says:

    …this poem will help me to pass my english subject! ..this poem sucks but its a heaven’ gift! yahoo! 3rd year, here i come!

  50. Meredith Zern says:

    I enjoyed reading this poem; it was poignant albeit very straightfoward. Although you can extract whatever meaning you like from it, it seems obvious that these townspeople held Richard in such high esteem because of his stature. And what exactly did he do himself to earn it? The poem doesn’t really elaborate — did he earn his money, was he really sincere in his manners? The irony, I think, is that it is every one of “we people” (who were holding him in such high esteem) that helped him gain his status. Once he acquired it, they all appeared obliged to jump on the bandwagon and appear him for afar.

    Fans of this poem should definitely listen to the Simon & Garfunkel song if they have not already. It’s an awesome take of the poem.

  51. Sue O.P. says:

    Interesting to read the commentary … don’t remember reading it until today, but … there are familiar phrases. High school English, overshadowed by the Paul Simon hit? Yes.

    It was “assigned” by my current therapist; it strikes a chord somewhere in my soul. Not the source of my feelings then, but it gave a voice to thoughts … soul-stirrings … already present.

    The poem portrays the emptiness of soul that comes with my [many] depressive episodes. Perhaps for others, it is a commentary on the hollowness of money, position, worldly accomplishments. For me, it gives a voice to feelings which otherwise have no expression.

    “Richard Cory” [and Frank Avery, the man whose suicide may have “inspired” Edwin Arlington Robinson] died from an emptiness, a void of the soul.

    Wonder (a lot!) about the other comments; even more about the commentators. How many are students? High school or college?

    The Paul Simon song [from my high school days] had a similar mood.

  52. p0ps says:

    My take on this great poem is that it is not Richard Corey’s spiritual emptiness that is the cause of the tragedy, it is “we”, the town’s people who see his grace and the “glitter of his appearance” and feel inferior. Richard Corey is perceived as different and that creates a separation between him and the people. It IS the misunderstanding of others, seeing Richard Corey as better than they, they don’t trust him, they get all “fluttery”, they don’t befriend him because they think he’s better than they. It IS their envy which creates his apparent loneliness. His suicide indicates his lack of imagination, he can’t imagine how to improve his life, but to totally blame him ignores the abandonment he suffered because his neighbors don’t consider him equal.

  53. Josht says:

    This Richard Cory poem is not just a poem, but a reality. To many people live worried about how they don’t have all the money they wish to have. The truth is that no matter how much money you ever have, it will never make a person truly happy as they wish. I decided to pick this poem for a english 3 research paper, because is real, just like in the poem, and just like it is in life.

  54. Steph says:

    I’m currently analysing this poem for an english assignment and it has become one of my favorites! The poem shows obvious themes of success and wealth denying happiness. Throughout the poem there are no mentionings of relationships Richard may have had, leaving us to believe that despite his success, wealth and charm, he was lonesome. Relationships are essential for a happy life, and without love and relationships, success and wealth seem meaningless.

  55. Vicki Johnson says:

    Wake folks this poem is all about envy the people beating the pavment wating to just get a glimpse of a man just a man they all wanted to be like..look at the word Robinson wrote look some of them up like Whenever this means every time and always the tone changes in the 11 stanza the way they think after he is dead the peopl are still ENVY……

  56. marie antoinette says:

    this poem was such a good thing for the people to read.It lets me realize that not all people extavagant people we think off live contentedly..just like Richard Cory who seems to be a wealthy person who have everything but then killed himself maybe of loneliness…

  57. Suzi the great says:

    this poem is dumb because i have to do a report on it 🙁

  58. Kathryn Smith says:

    I had to do a school project for my drama class with one wise Mr. Slade, and i looked through all of his poem books and i found this one. It interigued (spelt that worng, but whatever) me because it sounds almost like me, except for the bullet though the head part.

  59. Melissa says:

    When i first read this poem, i immediately became intrigued. This poem just shows, like everyone else has said, that we cannot judge someone based on the outside. He (Richard) was rich, etc. but there were other problems. He was just not in place in society. Maybe the reason why Robinson named him Richard was b/c the character was rich! (LOL…Just my thought, Rich is rich!)

  60. Katy says:

    In my english 1010 class, my professor analyzed this poem to be about jesus christ. He said that richard cory “gave himself up”, everyone admired him… “cursed the bread” that kind of thing… but I disagree. I think that the underlying meaning that that no matter what you think about other people, no matter how much you may covet what they have, You would never want anyone elses problems, and everyone has their own struggles to worry about.

  61. Alison says:

    I THINK RICHARD CORY WAS AN AMAZING POEM! IM NOT A POEM PERSON BUT I HAVE TO ANALYZE ONE FOR ENGLISH 3 AND WHEN I READ THIS ONE I LOVED IT! LIKE SOMEONE ELSE SAID HE KILLED HIMSELF BECAUSE HE WASN’T HAPPY EVEN THOUGH HE HAD MONEY-MONEY DOESN’T BUY HAPPINESS.

  62. daniela says:

    this poem realy open my view of people and i realized that people are not always what they seem. This is one of my favorite poems and im in high school and out of all the boring stuff they showed us this is by far the best i ever heard.

  63. venmarie dimaunahan says:

    this poem ranked in the charts! the title itself says the reason why richard cory commited suicide……..the CORE of being RICH is HARD…….he can’t take it anymore because money can’t buy happiness; and this is the reality of life in which the poem depicts.

  64. Daniele says:

    I am doing a report on this poem, its literary merits/qualities. I think it has many. I think this poem is a good portrayal of naturalism because it depicts life’s raw, harsh truth without the glitter or sugarcoating. I think a lot can be gained by studying this work, because not only does it have so much included in the literary aspect, but it has such a life lesson also. This is one of Robinson’s best works, I think.

  65. Anna says:

    i love this poem, so im using it for my h.w. im only in 7th! lol

  66. Don Anton Balida says:

    This poem is the best example of irony applied in real life situation. Arlington clearly emphasizes in this poem that we cannot judge someone’s happiness based merely on physical appearance and possessions. Well-endowed physical features and wealth do not promise a successful life. After Richard Cory killed himself, we come to realize that even him does not have a ”perfect” life, contrary to what most people believed in. What an irony indeed!

  67. Tina says:

    Our society needs to quit wanting and believing that everyone has a better life then theirs.This poem is a good example for stating that we cannot jugde the outer appearance of someone especially if there wealthy does not obviously mean that they have all the happiness and wonderful life. After Richard Cory kills himself, we realize that his ”perfect” life is far from true
    -Polic

  68. Jessica says:

    I first read this poem as a senior in high school. Among all the boring poems we studied that I didn’t even understand, Richard Cory was definitly my favorite.

  69. Aaren Rivard says:

    This poem really spoke to me. It told me that to some people physical things are everything and to some others they could care less about them. Never judge a book by its cover.

  70. Paige says:

    This poem speaks about society and how young people are influenced by society

  71. Reggie says:

    i love this poem! it cracks me up!!!

  72. Arkaytan says:

    This poem is one of the best examples of how we cope with life. Either we change or we die. Its as simple as that. We hide our identities and make everyone believe that we’re in command, that nothing can ever shatter our resolve. In the end, it’s still the same old story: we’re just fooling ourselves and everybody else. Nobody knows us enough so everyone else will simply judge us by how we carry ourselves.

  73. maria prass says:

    i think Richard Cory is one of the best poems I have ever read. To me, it shows that someone can have everything in the world; money, estates, lands etc. but if they don’t have someone to share it with , it’s as though they don’t have it at all. Richard Cory had no mention of family, friends, or pets. so, i would say that he was lonely and depressed slightly. So he put a bullet through his head. A really remarkble poem that caught my attention.

  74. MB says:

    This is very typical of Robinson: the very last lines are decisive.They tell us about spiritual emptiness of the character behind the glitter of his appearance. It is not misunderstanding or envy of others that made him commit suicide, but his own lack of firm spiritual ground.The theme so common to the poet’s contemporaries.

  75. Laura Harper says:

    It is One of the best poems, it shows how ironic it is that someone who has everything still has nothing. I’m donig a poem explication of it. I have already wrote enough info about the poem to talk for 5 min., it is a poem evryone should read

  76. andrea laurel says:

    like some people, i for one have also never heard of this poem until my english teacher assigned me to read it. The poem was one of the best I’ve read. it’s wry, cerebral, and ironic. The idiom is itself “admirably schooled”. What’s good, is that I learned something from it!-how little we really know about the lives of others!

  77. Alice Rafidi says:

    I had never heard of this poem until I read an article recently where Michel Eisner of the Walt Disney Co. quoted it. The article was about a lawsuit of whether Michael Ovitz deserved all the severance pay that he received in hundreds of milions of dollars when he was released from his top dog Disney job. The board of directors wanted the money back. Apparently, Eisner was afraid that Ovitz, at the time, would have committed suicide. Like how Richard Cory put a bullet in his head.

  78. Dan says:

    Richard Cory is one of the top ten poems ever written. I also love Bewick Finzer and Llewellyn And The Tree and many many more. My other favorite poet is Thomas Hardy.

    My Book: Bedlam In A One Man Band (available online) A 2nd book forthcoming in mid 2005.

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