Unformatted text preview: I assume too many privileges, I pay, and I alone, for their assumption; By which, if I assume a darker knowledge Of Norcross than another, let the weight Of my injustice aggravate the load That is not on your shoulders. When I came To know this fellow Norcross in his house, I
41 The Three Taverns A Book of Poems By Edwin Arlington Robinson found him as I found him in the street -- No more, no less; indifferent, but no better. `Worse' were not quite the word: he was not bad; He was not . . . well, he was not anything. Has your invention ever entertained The picture of a dusty worm so dry That even the early bird would shake his head And fly on farther for another breakfast?" "But why forget the fortune of the worm," I said, "if in the dryness you deplore Salvation centred and endured? Your Norcross May have been one for many to have envied." "Salvation? Fortune? Would the worm say that? He might; and therefore I dismiss the worm With all dry things but one. Figures away, Do you begin to see this man a little? Do you begin to see him in the air, With all the vacant horrors of his outline For you to fill with more than it will hold? If so, you needn't crown yourself at once With epic laurel if you seem to fill it. Horrors, I say, for in the fires and forks Of a new hell -- if one were not enough -- I doubt if a new horror would have held him With a malignant ingenuity More to be feared than his before he died. You smile, as if in doubt. Well, smile again. Now come into his house, along with me: The four square sombre things that you see first Around you are four walls that go as high As to the ceiling. Norcross knew them well, And he knew others like them. Fasten to that With all the claws of your intelligence; And hold the man before you in his house As if he were a white rat in a box, And one that knew himself to be no other. I tell you twice that he knew all about it, That you may not forget the worst of all Our tragedies begin with what we know. Could Norcross only not have known, I wonder How many would have blessed and envied him! Could he have had the usual eye for spots On others, and for none upon himself, I smile to ponder on the carriages That might as well as not have clogged the town In honor of his end. For there was gold, You see, though all he needed was a little, And what he gave said nothing of who gave it. He would have given it all if in return There might have been a more sufficient face To greet him when he shaved. Though you insist It is the dower, and always, of our degree Not to be cursed with such invidious insight, Remember that you stand, you and your fancy, Now in his house; and since we are together, See for yourself and tell me what you see. Tell me the best you see. Make
42 The Three Taverns A Book of Poems By Edwin Arlington Robinson a slight noise Of recognition when you find a book That you would not as lief read upside down As otherwise, for example. If there you fail, Observe the walls and lead me to the place, Where you are...
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- Spring '03
- The Bible, 2007 singles, Edwin Arlington Robinson