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Sainte-Nitouche



Though not for common praise of him,
Nor yet for pride or charity,
Still would I make to Vanderberg
One tribute for his memory:

One honest warrant of a friend
Who found with him that flesh was grass—
Who neither blamed him in defect
Nor marveled how it came to pass;

Or why it ever was that he—
That Vanderberg, of all good men,
Should lose himself to find himself,
Straightway to lose himself again.

For we had buried Sainte-Nitouche,
And he had said to me that night:
“Yes, we have laid her in the earth,
But what of that?” And he was right.

And he had said: “We have a wife,
We have a child, we have a church;
’T would be a scurrilous way out
If we should leave them in the lurch.

“That’s why I have you here with me
To-night: you know a talk may take
The place of bromide, cyanide,
Et cetera. For heaven’s sake,

“Why do you look at me like that?
What have I done to freeze you so?
Dear man, you see where friendship means
A few things yet that you don’t know;

“And you see partly why it is
That I am glad for what is gone:
For Sainte-Nitouche and for the world
In me that followed. What lives on—

“Well, here you have it: here at home—
For even home will yet return.
You know the truth is on my side,
And that will make the embers burn.

“I see them brighten while I speak,
I see them flash,—and they are mine!
You do not know them, but I do:
I know the way they used to shine.

“And I know more than I have told
Of other life that is to be:
I shall have earned it when it comes,
And when it comes I shall be free.

“Not as I was before she came,
But farther on for having been
The servitor, the slave of her—
The fool, you think. But there’s your sin—

“Forgive me!—and your ignorance:
Could you but have the vision here
That I have, you would understand
As I do that all ways are clear

“For those who dare to follow them
With earnest eyes and honest feet.
But Sainte-Nitouche has made the way
For me, and I shall find it sweet.

“Sweet with a bitter sting left?—Yes,
Bitter enough, God knows, at first;
But there are more steep ways than one
To make the best look like the worst;

“And here is mine—the dark and hard,
For me to follow, trust, and hold:
And worship, so that I may leave
No broken story to be told.

“Therefore I welcome what may come,
Glad for the days, the nights, the years.”—
An upward flash of ember-flame
Revealed the gladness in his tears.

“You see them, but you know,” said he,
“Too much to be incredulous:
You know the day that makes us wise,
The moment that makes fools of us.

“So I shall follow from now on
The road that she has found for me:
The dark and starry way that leads
Right upward, and eternally.

“Stumble at first? I may do that;
And I may grope, and hate the night;
But there’s a guidance for the man
Who stumbles upward for the light,

“And I shall have it all from her,
The foam-born child of innocence.
I feel you smiling while I speak,
But that’s of little consequence;

“For when we learn that we may find
The truth where others miss the mark,
What is it worth for us to know
That friends are smiling in the dark?

“Could we but share the lonely pride
Of knowing, all would then be well;
But knowledge often writes itself
In flaming words we cannot spell.

“And I, who have my work to do,
Look forward; and I dare to see,
Far stretching and all mountainous,
God’s pathway through the gloom for me.”

I found so little to say then
That I said nothing.—“Say good-night,”
Said Vanderberg; “and when we meet
To-morrow, tell me I was right.

“Forget the dozen other things
That you have not the faith to say;
For now I know as well as you
That you are glad to go away.”

I could have blessed the man for that,
And he could read me with a smile:
“You doubt,” said he, “but if we live
You’ll know me in a little while.”

He lived; and all as he foretold,
I knew him—better than he thought:
My fancy did not wholly dig
The pit where I believed him caught.

But yet he lived and laughed, and preached,
And worked—as only players can:
He scoured the shrine that once was home
And kept himself a clergyman.

The clockwork of his cold routine
Put friends far off that once were near;
The five staccatos in his laugh
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Submitted on May 13, 2011

4:07 min read
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Edwin Arlington Robinson

Edwin Arlington Robinson was an American poet who won three Pulitzer Prizes for his work Edwin Arlington Robinson won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry three times in 1922 for his first Collected Poems in 1925 for The Man Who Died Twice and in 1928 for Tristram Robinson was born in Head Tide Lincoln County Maine but his family moved to Gardiner Maine in 1870 He described his childhood in Maine as stark and unhappy his parents having wanted a girl did not name him until he was six months old when they visited a holiday resort other vacationers decided that he should have a name and selected a man from Arlington Massachusetts to draw a name out of a hat Robinsons early difficulties led many of his poems to have a dark pessimism and his stories to deal with an American dream gone awry His brother Dean died of a drug overdose His other brother Herman a handsome and charismatic man married the woman Edwin himself loved but Herman suffered business failures became an alcoholic and ended up estranged from his wife and children dying impoverished in a charity hospital in 1901 Robinsons poem Richard Cory is thought to refer to this brother In late 1891 at the age of 21 Edwin entered Harvard University as a special student He took classes in English French and Shakespeare as well as one on Anglo-Saxon that he later dropped His mission was not to get all As as he wrote his friend Harry Smith B and in that vicinity is a very comfortable and safe place to hang His real desire was to get published in one of the Harvard literary journals Within the first fortnight of being there The Harvard Advocate published Robinsons Ballade of a Ship He was even invited to meet with the editors but when he returned he complained to his friend Mowry Saben I sat there among them unable to say a word Robinsons literary career had false-started Edwins father Edward died after Edwins first year at Harvard Edwin returned to Harvard for a second year but it was to be his last one as a student there Though short his stay in Cambridge included some of his most cherished experiences and there he made his most lasting friendships He wrote his friend Harry Smith on June 21 1893 I suppose this is the last letter I shall ever write you from Harvard The thought seems a little queer but it cannot be otherwise Sometimes I try to imagine the state my mind would be in had I never come here but I cannot I feel that I have got comparatively little from my two years but still more than I could get in Gardiner if I lived a century Robinson had returned to Gardiner by mid-1893 He had plans to start writing seriously In October he wrote his friend Gledhill Writing has been my dream ever since I was old enough to lay a plan for an air castle Now for the first time I seem to have something like a favorable opportunity and this winter I shall make a beginning With his father gone Edwin became the man of the household He tried farming and developed a close relationship with his brothers wife Emma Robinson who after her husband Hermans death moved back to Gardiner with her children She twice rejected marriage proposals from Edwin after which he permanently left Gardiner He moved to New York where he led a precarious existence as an impoverished poet while cultivating friendships with other writers artists and would-be intellectuals In 1896 he self-published his first book The Torrent and the Night Before paying 100 dollars for 500 copies Robinson meant it as a surprise for his mother Days before the copies arrived Mary Palmer Robinson died of diphtheria His second volume The Children of the Night had a somewhat wider circulation Its readers included President Theodore Roosevelts son Kermit who recommended it to his father Impressed by the poems and aware of Robinsons straits Roosevelt in 1905 secured the writer a job at the New York Customs Office Robinson remained in the job until Roosevelt left office Gradually his literary successes began to mount He won the Pulitzer Prize three times in the 1920s During the last twenty years of his life he became a regular summer resident at the MacDowell Colony in New Hampshire where several women made him the object of their devoted attention but he maintained a solitary life and never married Robinson died of cancer on April 6 1935 in the New York Hospital now New York Cornell Hospital in New York City more…

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