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Richard Cory Research Papers

Poetry is often difficult to understand. The poem Richard Cory is an example of a poem that is frequently studied but poorly understood when written about in research papers. Have Paper Masters custom write a paper on Richard Cory or any poem you need explicated for a college level literature course.

Edwin Arlington Robinson’s short poem, Richard Cory, has been frequently anthologized and dissected; more than one hundred years after it was written, it still strikes a chord with every reader who has ever felt dissatisfaction with his own life and admiration tinged with envy for the life of another. The economy with which Robinson describes the gap between public perception and private reality makes this poem worthy of detailed analysis.

Richard Cory

The poem consists of four quatrains with an ABAB CDCD EFEF GHGH rhyme scheme. This tight rhyme scheme and the unvaried iambic pentameter of the meter impose an orderly inevitability on the message of the poem. At the same time, the poet skillfully avoids a doggerel or jingle-like predictability by the almost conversational tone of the words he chooses. The many times that the narrator begins his phrases with “and” or “but”, for example, give the impression of run-on, informal speech. The unidentified narrator is one of “we people on the pavement”, a not very wealthy townsperson recounting the story of the fall of the town’s idol, and his diction conveys his shock.

The progression of meaning throughout the poem begins with the impression Cory created on the average person when they saw him “down town”: that of a gentleman, someone removed from their class or situation. In the second stanza, we are told that he is not only privileged but modest, human and likable, with an aura of charisma and glamour. In the third stanza, wealth and manners are added to the list of Cory’s positive qualities, and the feelings of the average person – a wish to have been born in his place – are the logical conclusion. In the fourth stanza, the first two lines describe the lives of the townspeople in contrast to the perceived lifestyle of Cory. They have to work, but in spite of their effort, the “light” and the “meat” elude them, and they are dissatisfied with the “bread”. They are doomed to a disappointing life with no chance to win the higher things for which they aspire. In the final two lines, they are shocked to learn that for no apparent reason (“one calm summer night”), Cory has killed himself. Thus, clearly his life was as much a hell for him as theirs for them, so much so that he could not bear to wait for whatever light it was that he felt he lacked. The unstated messages are evident:

  1. One person cannot know another by superficial observation
  2. Perceived good fortune does not guarantee happiness
  3. One should look within for one’s model rather than without

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