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Vickery's Mountain



Blue in the west the mountain stands,
And through the long twilight
Vickery sits with folded hands,
And Vickery’s eyes are bright.

Bright, for he knows what no man else
On earth as yet may know:
There’s a golden word that he never tells,
And a gift that he will not show.

He dreams of honor and wealth and fame,
He smiles, and well he may;
For to Vickery once a sick man came
Who did not go away.

The day before the day to be,
“Vickery,” said the guest,
“You know as you live what’s left of me—
And you shall know the rest.

“You know as you live that I have come
To this we call the end.
No doubt you have found me troublesome,
But you’ve also found a friend;

“For we shall give and you shall take
The gold that is in view;
The mountain there and I shall make
A golden man of you.

“And you shall leave a friend behind
Who neither frets nor feels;
And you shall move among your kind
With hundreds at your heels.

“Now this that I have written here
Tells all that need be told;
So, Vickery, take the way that’s clear.
And be a man of gold.”

Vickery turned his eyes again
To the far mountain-side,
And wept a tear for worthy men
Defeated and defied.

Since then a crafty score of years
Have come, and they have gone;
But Vickery counts no lost arrears:
He lingers and lives on.

Blue in the west the mountain stands,
Familiar as a face.
Blue, but Vickery knows what sands
Are golden at its base.

He dreams and lives upon the day
When he shall walk with kings.
Vickery smiles—and well he may.
The life-caged linnet sings.

Vickery thinks the time will come
To go for what is his;
But hovering, unseen hands at home
Will hold him where he is.

There’s a golden word that he never tells
And a gift that he will not show.
All to be given to some one else—
And Vickery not to know.

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Submitted on May 13, 2011

1:46 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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