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The Top 500 Poems: 200-101 
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Post Re: The Top 500 Poems: 200-101
DWill wrote:
That's all for the second 100, but I just wanted to say, what a fine discussion of "John Whiteside's Daughter." It's an enigmatic piece. Wonder why she doesn't get a name.

I can hardly believe it, we are on the last 100! I will be a little sad when this ends. Oh, and I wondered the same thing about the child being nameless.



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Post Re: The Top 500 Poems: 200-101
DWill wrote:
148. "Richard Cory, by Edward Arlington Robinson. You know, like the famous Simon and Garfunkel song.

Whenever Richard Cory went down town,
We people on the pavement looked at him:
He was a gentleman from sole to crown,
Clean-favoured 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 in his head.

Edwin Arlington Robinson


I dug this up from the murky depths of Booktalk. I'm hoping to generate a bit of discussion. This is such an interesting poem and approachable. I'm using it in my literature class as an introduction to poetry (along with Stopping by Woods), hoping to get a discussion going. The theme of appearance versus reality comes into play later when we read A Rose for Emily.


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Mon Mar 05, 2012 5:37 pm
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Post Re: The Top 500 Poems: 200-101
geo wrote:
DWill wrote:
148. "Richard Cory, by Edward Arlington Robinson. You know, like the famous Simon and Garfunkel song.

Whenever Richard Cory went down town,
We people on the pavement looked at him:
He was a gentleman from sole to crown,
Clean-favoured 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 in his head.

Edwin Arlington Robinson


I dug this up from the murky depths of Booktalk. I'm hoping to generate a bit of discussion. This is such an interesting poem and approachable. I'm using it in my literature class as an introduction to poetry (along with Stopping by Woods), hoping to get a discussion going. The theme of appearance versus reality comes into play later when we read A Rose for Emily.

I love to explore the theme that things are not always what they seem or that there is so much more under the surface (like DWill's avatar the iceberg). In life, so often they are not. Thanks, Geo, for dredging this up. Doing the Top 500 was one of my most favorite things.



Mon Mar 05, 2012 5:43 pm
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Post Re: The Top 500 Poems: 200-101
That's true, "Richard Cory" is an accessible poem, the kind that was more common when poetry was more popular. I like Paul Simon's version of the poem, because after we learn that RC shot himself in the head, we hear the refrain, "Oh, I wish that I could be...Richard Cory." And isn't that just how people think--not heeding the lesson that riches don't buy happiness, but wanting to give Cory's life a go anyway. It's like the stories of all those lottery winners that end up busted and miserable. We all think that we could handle the dough much better (and wouldn't I like to try).



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Post Re: The Top 500 Poems: 200-101
he "fluttered pulses" and "glittered when he walked".....fantastic, isn't it?


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Tue Mar 06, 2012 1:56 am
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Post Re: The Top 500 Poems: 200-101
oblivion wrote:
he "fluttered pulses" and "glittered when he walked".....fantastic, isn't it?


And "quietly arrayed" and "imperially slim"--good stuff.

The irony reveals a discrepancy between what appears to be true and what is actually true. This is from the townspeople's viewpoint. "We people on the pavement looked at him." And they see only Richard Cory's positive traits, his good looks, high manners, and knowledge that he is rich. They imagine he is happy and they would be happy if they could be like him. But in the very last line we discover that Richard Cory was in fact desperately unhappy. It baffles our expectations.

I do love Paul Simon's version in which the last chorus--I wish I could be like Richard Cory--is sung even after we find out that Richard Cory killed himself. Does he still wish he was like Richard Cory?


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Post Re: The Top 500 Poems: 200-101
I'm not very experienced in poetry, but for me this anthology was a good start. There's a plethora of content to work with, a lot of prose and structure to comprehend, and going through the entire volume was generally a satisfying experience for an unaffiliated person such as myself. However, this being an anthology, more specifically being limited to 500 poems, there will probably the inevitable lists of poems that were been left out, and the entire volume may be left uneven because of some of...more


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Post Re: The Top 500 Poems: 200-101
viajesen1 wrote:
I'm not very experienced in poetry, but for me this anthology was a good start. There's a plethora of content to work with, a lot of prose and structure to comprehend, and going through the entire volume was generally a satisfying experience for an unaffiliated person such as myself. However, this being an anthology, more specifically being limited to 500 poems, there will probably the inevitable lists of poems that were been left out, and the entire volume may be left uneven because of some of...more

If you managed to read all of these poems independently, I'm impressed. It was the group effort that got the rest of us through. Not that it's in any way a painful exercise, but it's just the discipline of sticking to it that some, such as I, find is in short supply. We did have many discussions about some blankety-blank poem that never should have made anyone's top 500 list. The method of selection the editor used was supposed to be somewhat scientific, not based on his own opinions but those of countless previous anthologizers.



Mon Aug 06, 2012 7:09 am
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Post Re: The Top 500 Poems: 200-101
I can't remember getting so angry at something so trivial. When a poem appeared that seemed opaque to me....I got really cross.

I sulked....in fact. :o


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