Unformatted text preview: Edwin Arlington Robinson On the Way
(Philadelphia, 1794) Note. -- The following imaginary dialogue between Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr, which is not based upon any specific incident in American history, may be supposed to have occurred a few months previous to Hamilton's retirement from Washington's Cabinet in 1795 and a few years before the political ingenuities of Burr -- who has been characterized, without much exaggeration, as the inventor of American politics -- began to be conspicuously formidable to the Federalists. These activities on the part of Burr resulted, as the reader will remember, in the Burr-Jefferson tie for the Presidency in 1800, and finally in the BurrHamilton duel at Weehawken in 1804. BURR Hamilton, if he rides you down, remember That I was here to speak, and so to save Your fabric from catastrophe. That's good; For I perceive that you observe him also. A President, a-riding of his horse, May dust a General and be forgiven; But why be dusted -- when we're all alike, All equal, and all happy. Here he comes -- And there he goes. And we, by your new patent, Would seem to be two kings here by the wayside, With our two hats off to his Excellency. Why not his Majesty, and done with it? Forgive me if I shook your meditation, But you that weld our credit should have eyes To see what's coming. Bury me first if -I- do. HAMILTON There's always in some pocket of your brain A care for me; wherefore my gratitude For your attention is commensurate With your concern. Yes, Burr, we are two kings; We are as royal as two ditch-diggers; But owe me not your sceptre. These are the days When first a few seem all; but if we live, We may again be seen to be the few That we have always been. These are the days When men forget the stars, and are forgotten. BURR But why forget them? They're the same that winked Upon the world when Alcibiades Cut off his dog's tail to induce distinction. There are dogs
21 The Three Taverns A Book of Poems By Edwin Arlington Robinson yet, and Alcibiades Is not forgotten. HAMILTON Yes, there are dogs enough, God knows; and I can hear them in my dreams. BURR Never a doubt. But what you hear the most Is your new music, something out of tune With your intention. How in the name of Cain, I seem to hear you ask, are men to dance, When all men are musicians. Tell me that, I hear you saying, and I'll tell you the name Of Samson's mother. But why shroud yourself Before the coffin comes? For all you know, The tree that is to fall for your last house Is now a sapling. You may have to wait So long as to be sorry; though I doubt it, For you are not at home in your new Eden Where chilly whispers of a likely frost Accumulate already in the air. I think a touch of ermine, Hamilton, Would be for you in your autumnal mood A pleasant sort of warmth along the shoulders. HAMILTON If so it is you think, you may as well Give over thinking. We are done with ermine. What I fear most is not the multitude, But those who are to loop it with a string That has one end in France and one end here. I'm not so fortified with observation That I...
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- Spring '03
- The Bible, 2007 singles, Edwin Arlington Robinson