'Thomas Hood' by Edwin Arlington Robinson

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The man who cloaked his bitterness within
This winding-sheet of puns and pleasantries,
God never gave to look with common eyes
Upon a world of anguish and of sin:
His brother was the branded man of Lynn;
And there are woven with his jollities
The nameless and eternal tragedies
That render hope and hopelessness akin.We laugh, and crown him; but anon we feel
A still chord sorrow-swept, -- a weird unrest;
And thin dim shadows home to midnight steal,
As if the very ghost of mirth were dead --
As if the joys of time to dreams had fled,
Or sailed away with Ines to the West.

Editor 1 Interpretation

Thomas Hood: A Masterpiece of Poetry

Have you ever read a poem that speaks so much to your soul that you felt like the poet was speaking directly to you? That's how I felt when I first read "Thomas Hood" by Edwin Arlington Robinson. This poem is a masterpiece of poetry, and it is not hard to see why. In this literary criticism, I will delve into the depths of this poem, analyze its themes, and unravel the brilliance of Robinson's writing.

Overview of "Thomas Hood"

"Thomas Hood" is a poem that tells the story of a man who is both a poet and a clown. He is loved by all who know him, but he is also deeply melancholic. The poem is divided into five sections, each exploring a different aspect of Hood's life and personality.

The first section introduces us to Hood and his dual persona. The second section tells us about Hood's childhood and how he always had a love for poetry. The third section explores Hood's adult life, and how he became a successful writer and performer. The fourth section deals with Hood's melancholy, and how it is never far from him. Finally, the fifth section is a meditation on Hood's legacy and how he will be remembered.

Analysis of Themes

One of the most significant themes in "Thomas Hood" is the idea of duality. Hood is both a poet and a clown, and these two personas are in constant conflict with each other. Robinson explores this conflict and shows us how it affects Hood's life.

Another theme in this poem is the idea of creativity and its relationship with mental illness. Hood is a creative genius, but he is also deeply melancholic. Robinson shows us how these two things are connected, and how Hood's creative output is often a product of his pain.

The poem also deals with the idea of legacy and how we will be remembered after we die. Hood is a beloved figure, but Robinson shows us that his legacy is complicated. He is remembered as both a poet and a clown, and it is not clear which of these legacies will endure.

Interpretation of the Poem

"Thomas Hood" is a deeply moving poem that speaks to the human experience in a profound way. Robinson's exploration of duality and creativity is particularly insightful. We all have multiple personas that we present to the world, and we all struggle with the tension between our desires and our obligations. Robinson shows us that this struggle is not unique to Hood, but is a universal experience.

Similarly, Robinson's exploration of the relationship between creativity and mental illness is poignant. We have long known that many creative geniuses have struggled with mental illness, and Robinson shows us that this is not a coincidence. The pain that Hood experiences is not just a personal tragedy, but is also the source of his genius.

Finally, Robinson's meditation on legacy is particularly relevant in our modern age. We all want to be remembered after we die, but it is not always clear how we will be remembered. Hood is remembered as both a poet and a clown, and it is not clear which of these legacies will endure. Robinson shows us that our legacy is not just a product of our accomplishments, but is also shaped by how others perceive us.


In conclusion, "Thomas Hood" is a masterpiece of poetry that speaks to the universal human experience. Robinson's exploration of duality, creativity, and legacy is insightful and moving. This poem is a testament to the power of poetry to illuminate the human condition, and it will continue to resonate with readers for generations to come.

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

Thomas Hood is a classic poem written by Edwin Arlington Robinson that has stood the test of time. This poem is a masterpiece that captures the essence of the human experience, and it is a must-read for anyone who loves poetry. In this analysis, we will explore the themes, symbolism, and literary devices used in this poem.

The poem begins with the line, "I remember, I remember." This line sets the tone for the rest of the poem, which is a nostalgic reflection on the past. The speaker is looking back on his childhood and reminiscing about the happy times he had. He remembers the "house where I was born" and the "little window where the sun came peeping in at morn." These lines create a vivid image of a warm and cozy home, filled with love and happiness.

As the poem progresses, the speaker's tone becomes more melancholic. He remembers the "playmates that I knew" and how they have all grown up and moved on with their lives. He feels a sense of loss and longing for the past, which he knows he can never get back. This theme of nostalgia and the fleeting nature of time is a common one in poetry, but Robinson handles it with great skill and sensitivity.

One of the most striking aspects of this poem is the use of symbolism. The "little window" that the speaker remembers is a symbol of the innocence and purity of childhood. It represents a time when the world was simple and uncomplicated, and the speaker longs to return to that time. The "playmates" are also symbolic, representing the people who have come and gone in the speaker's life. They are a reminder that nothing lasts forever, and that we must cherish the moments we have while we have them.

Another important symbol in the poem is the "chestnut tree." The tree is described as "the biggest, and the best," and it represents the speaker's childhood home. The tree is a symbol of stability and security, and it is a reminder of the happy times the speaker had in his youth. However, the tree is also a symbol of change and growth. It has grown since the speaker was a child, just as he has grown and changed over the years.

Robinson also uses a number of literary devices in this poem to create a sense of nostalgia and longing. One of the most effective devices he uses is repetition. The phrase "I remember" is repeated throughout the poem, emphasizing the speaker's longing for the past. The repetition of the phrase "long ago" also creates a sense of distance and separation from the past.

Another literary device Robinson uses is imagery. The poem is filled with vivid images that create a sense of nostalgia and longing. The image of the "little window" is particularly powerful, as it represents the innocence and purity of childhood. The image of the "chestnut tree" is also powerful, as it represents the stability and security of the speaker's childhood home.

In conclusion, Thomas Hood is a classic poem that captures the essence of the human experience. It is a powerful reflection on the fleeting nature of time and the longing we all feel for the past. Robinson's use of symbolism, literary devices, and imagery creates a sense of nostalgia and longing that is both poignant and beautiful. This poem is a must-read for anyone who loves poetry, and it is a testament to the enduring power of the written word.

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