Monday, November 26, 2007

Richard Cory

The original Edwin Arlington Robinson version:

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.


And the Simon and Garfunkel version:

They say that Richard Cory owns one half of this whole town,
With political connections to spread his wealth around.
Born into society, a banker's only child,
He had everything a man could want: power, grace, and style.

But I work in his factory
And I curse the life I'm living
And I curse my poverty
And I wish that I could be,
Oh, I wish that I could be,
Oh, I wish that I could be
Richard Cory.

The papers print his picture almost everywhere he goes:
Richard Cory at the opera, Richard Cory at a show.
And the rumor of his parties and the orgies on his yacht!
Oh, he surely must be happy with everything he's got.

But I work in his factory
And I curse the life I'm living
And I curse my poverty
And I wish that I could be,
Oh, I wish that I could be,
Oh, I wish that I could be
Richard Cory.

He freely gave to charity, he had the common touch,
And they were grateful for his patronage and thanked him very much,
So my mind was filled with wonder when the evening headlines read:
"Richard Cory went home last night and put a bullet through his head."

But I work in his factory
And I curse the life I'm living
And I curse my poverty
And I wish that I could be,
Oh, I wish that I could be,
Oh, I wish that I could be
Richard Cory.




3 comments:

  1. This takes me back to High School English class.
    The Simon and Garfunkel version was new (shows you what an old fart I am).Our teacher-her name was Sally Cupp-played the song off the LP then read the original poem.It was so long ago and I can't remember any discussion we may have, but I remember feeling rather unsympathetic towards Richard Corey.
    I've meant a few real-life Richard Corey's and I've seen what can happen to those with too much money.
    The contrast between that and the horrendous poverty in this world makes me want to scream.

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  2. Hi, Robert: wow, what a story. I, er, downloaded the song just so I could hear the difference. The S&G version certainly sounds more angsty because of the refrain, but it also has its own brand of poetry ("common touch" for example, a reference to the Kipling poem). Sounds a bit like "At the Zoo", though -- I found myself with a bit of Last Song Syndrome, and it wasn't "Richard Cory" but "At the Zoo."

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  3. Hi Dom,
    Maybe I should go back to doing more "stories"....things on my blog were getting a bit out of hand because of the political and religious writing; felt I had to delete a couple of entries and several comments.

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