Edwin Arlington Robinson
  • Edwin Arlington Robinson
  • Friendless and faint, with martyred steps and slow,
  • Faint for the flesh, but for the spirit free,
  • Stung by the mob that came to see the show,
  • The Master toiled along to Calvary;
  • We gibed him, as he went, with houndish glee,
  • Till his dimmed eyes for us did overflow;
  • We cursed his vengeless hands thrice wretchedly, —
  • And this was nineteen hundred years ago.
  • But after nineteen hundred years the shame
  • Still clings, and we have not made good the loss
  • That outraged faith has entered in his name.
  • Ah, when shall come love’s courage to be strong!
  • Tell me, O Lord — tell me, O Lord, how long
  • Are we to keep Christ writhing on the cross!

Edwin Arlington Robinson grew up in Gardiner, Maine. One of his two brothers died of a drug overdose and the other married the young woman Edwin was in love with. That brother died as an impoverished alcoholic, estranged from his family. Edwin spent two years at Harvard and then moved to New York. Among his admirers as his reputation grew was President Theodore Roosevelt who secured a position for him at the New York Customs House. The poet, who won the Pulitzer Prize three times in the 1920s, remained a bachelor all his life. “Calvary” was published in Robinson’s second collection, The Children of the Night, which appeared in 1897.

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