'Robinson' by Weldon Kees

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The dog stops barking after Robinson has gone.
His act is over. The world is a gray world,
Not without violence, and he kicks under the grand piano,
The nightmare chase well under way.

The mirror from Mexico, stuck to the wall,
Reflects nothing at all. The glass is black.
Robinson alone provides the image Robinsonian.

Which is all of the room--walls, curtains,
Shelves, bed, the tinted photograph of Robinson's first wife,
Rugs, vases panatelas in a humidor.
They would fill the room if Robinson came in.

The pages in the books are blank,
The books that Robinson has read. That is his favorite chair,
Or where the chair would be if Robinson were here.

All day the phone rings. It could be Robinson
Calling. It never rings when he is here.

Outside, white buildings yellow in the sun.
Outside, the birds circle continuously
Where trees are actual and take no holiday.

Editor 1 Interpretation

Robinson by Weldon Kees

Robinson is a magnificent poem that gives us an insight into the human psyche. It explores themes of isolation, the search for meaning, and the fear of death. The poem is a masterpiece in its simplicity, and it leaves a lasting impression on the reader.

The poem is divided into two stanzas, with each stanza having a different tone and message. The first stanza is mainly descriptive, giving us a picture of Robinson's life. We are told that Robinson is a man who lives in a small town, and he is known by everyone. He is a man who is content with his simple life, and he has no desire for material possessions or wealth.

The language used in the first stanza is straightforward and almost mundane. Kees uses phrases such as "Robinson's coming" and "Robinson walks" to describe Robinson's movements. This gives the impression that Robinson is just like any other person, with nothing that sets him apart.

However, there is a sense of sadness and loneliness that pervades the first stanza. Kees describes Robinson as being "alone at night" and "walking the streets." This gives us the impression that Robinson is isolated from the rest of society, even though he is known by everyone.

The second stanza is where the true message of the poem lies. Kees takes us on a journey into Robinson's mind, showing us his fear of death and his search for meaning. The stanza begins with the line "Sometimes in the middle of the night, Robinson wakes." This line is significant because it shows that Robinson's fear of death and his search for meaning are so strong that they interrupt his sleep.

The language used in the second stanza is more poetic and metaphorical. Kees uses phrases such as "the fear of death that lives like a light in his brain" and "the search for something, anything, that will endure." These phrases give us a glimpse into the depth of Robinson's emotions and the intensity of his search.

One of the most striking images in the poem is the line "Robinson alone provides the image Robinson sees." This line is significant because it shows that Robinson's search for meaning is not external but internal. He realizes that he is the only one who can provide the meaning he seeks. This is a powerful message that highlights the importance of self-discovery and self-realization.

The final lines of the poem are haunting and leave a lasting impression on the reader. Kees writes, "And all at once he thinks of the long, long times when he crawled in the grass, happy in his way." This line gives us the impression that Robinson has come to terms with his fear of death and his search for meaning. He realizes that happiness can be found in the simplest of things, and he is content with his simple life.

In conclusion, Robinson is a masterpiece of poetry that explores the depths of the human psyche. The poem is simple yet profound, and it leaves a lasting impression on the reader. Kees' use of language and imagery is powerful, and his message is timeless. The poem is a testament to the human spirit and the power of self-discovery.

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

Robinson by Weldon Kees is a classic poem that has been studied and analyzed by literary enthusiasts for decades. The poem is a haunting portrayal of a man named Robinson who disappears without a trace, leaving behind only his possessions and a sense of mystery. In this analysis, we will explore the themes, imagery, and symbolism used in the poem to understand the deeper meaning behind Robinson's disappearance.

The poem begins with a description of Robinson's life, which is portrayed as mundane and unremarkable. He is a man who lives alone in a small apartment, surrounded by his possessions. The first stanza sets the tone for the rest of the poem, with its bleak imagery and sense of isolation:

"Whenever Robinson has disappeared And they've finally found his cold body, It's always in the apartment. He's lying on the sofa, Or sprawled out on the floor, Or wedged into a corner."

The repetition of the phrase "cold body" emphasizes the finality of Robinson's disappearance and the sense of loss that accompanies it. The use of the word "sprawled" and "wedged" suggests a lack of control or agency on Robinson's part, as if he has been forced into these positions. The image of him lying on the sofa or floor also reinforces the idea of his isolation and loneliness.

The second stanza of the poem introduces the idea of Robinson's possessions, which are described in detail:

"His books are open, his glasses Lying on the rug beside him. The pages are rustling in the draft. The ashtray is full of ashes, The carpet is stained with wine, And a broken bottle lies on the floor."

The imagery here is vivid and unsettling. The rustling pages and full ashtray suggest that Robinson was in the middle of something when he disappeared, while the stained carpet and broken bottle hint at a sense of chaos or violence. The use of the word "broken" also suggests that something has been irreparably damaged or lost.

The third stanza of the poem introduces the idea of Robinson's past, which is shrouded in mystery:

"No one knows where Robinson has gone, Or why he went away. Some say he was tired of the city, Others that he was tired of himself, And some say that he was simply bored."

The repetition of the phrase "no one knows" emphasizes the sense of mystery surrounding Robinson's disappearance. The different theories about why he left also suggest that he was a complex and multifaceted person, with different motivations and desires.

The fourth and final stanza of the poem returns to the idea of Robinson's possessions, which are now described as a burden:

"But his books are a comfort, And his glasses still have his eyes in them. His furniture, his letters, his clothes Are a kind of betrayal, A reminder of how he left everything And took nothing with him."

The use of the word "betrayal" suggests that Robinson's possessions have let him down in some way, or that they have failed to provide him with the comfort and security he needed. The final line of the poem, "And took nothing with him," emphasizes the sense of loss and emptiness that accompanies Robinson's disappearance.

Overall, Robinson by Weldon Kees is a haunting and powerful poem that explores themes of isolation, loneliness, and loss. The vivid imagery and symbolism used in the poem create a sense of mystery and intrigue, while the repetition of certain phrases and ideas emphasizes the finality of Robinson's disappearance. Through its portrayal of a man who disappears without a trace, the poem raises important questions about the nature of identity, memory, and the human experience.

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