Memories Are Strange Things

Sometimes a poem stays with me, not because it is, necessarily, one of my favourites, but due to the memories associated with it. One such poem is Richard Cory by Edwin Arlington Robinson:


“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.”


I remember going to meet a friend in a local pub. It was a beautiful summer evening and I was looking forward to seeing my friend and enjoying good conversation over a few cooling pints.


When I got to the pub we did indeed enjoy a few pints whilst sitting in the pub garden, close to the fish pond.


My friend is, I’m pleased to say still very much alive and kicking. So why does that poem resonate with me so powerfully? Perhaps because it poignantly evokes the fragility of life and how death comes to us all (including those who we least expect it to visit as a consequence of their own actions.)


Having written the above, I am not entirely convinced by my own answer. Yet, whenever I think of Richard Corry, I remember walking to the pub to meet my friend and discussing the poem with him (albeit briefly) over a few convivial pints on a beautiful summer evening.


Memories are indeed strange things.



5 thoughts on “Memories Are Strange Things

  1. V.M.Sang

    I didn’t know this poem. It’s…well, I can’t think of a word to describe it. The end is shocking, and it shows how we can’t know what is going on inside someone’s head. It also says that the outward signs of success are not so important, after all.
    As to memory–it is indeed weird. My husband and I often have different memories of the same thing or place. Sometimes one of us will have no memory of something while the other remembers it clearly.
    A good example of the strange effects of memory came a few years ago. We were in Manchester and going to meet some people in a pub near where I was in digs as a student. We approached the pub from the direction we always used to, but both of us had a memory that it was on the opposite side of the road.

    1. K Morris Poet Post author

      Many thanks for commenting, Vivienne. I agree with your comments on the poem and I’m pleased to have introduced it to you.
      I was interested in your and your husband’s experience as regards remembering the pub. Memory is a fascinating and a fallible thing.


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