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


  1. 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.

  2. 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!

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. Mian Touhid Ullah says:

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

  7. 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.

  8. 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!

  9. 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!

  10. 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…

  11. 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!

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

  14. 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.

  15. 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.

  16. 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.

  17. 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……

  18. 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…

  19. Suzi the great says:

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

  20. 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.

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