Monday, April 23, 2007

Somehow for the Best

Edwin Arlington Robinson is a supreme poet of alienation and a keen commentator on the necessary delusions by which people give their lives meaning. This poem, however, is uncharacteristically somewhat more hopeful than many of his best.

The Altar

Alone, remote, nor witting where I went,
I found an altar builded in a dream --
A fiery place, whereof there was a gleam
So swift, so searching, and so eloquent
Of upward promise, that love's murmur, blent
With sorrow's warning, gave but a supreme
Unending impulse to that human stream
Whose flood was all for the flame's fury bent.

Alas! I said,—the world is in the wrong.
But the same quenchless fever of unrest
That thrilled the foremost of that martyred throng
Thrilled me, and I awoke . . . and was the same
Bewildered insect plunging for the flame
That burns, and must burn somehow for the best.

For more poems, biography, and critical writings on Robinson visit Edwin Arlington Robinson—American Poet.

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