Tuesday, 6 January 2009

Merckle and Cory

Adolf Merckle suicide: German who lost £1bn in the financial crisis jumps under train (story). Put in mind of several other stories, including the one below.

Richard Cory
Edwin Arlington Robinson

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.

A train, not a gun, in Merckle's case. Merckle might have been slim and handsome once. The interesting technical thing in the poem (and there is a lesson, a vast complex, difficult lesson, to be learned here), is that it succeeds because of a deliberate clumsiness. I am thinking of the last line of the second verse, with that flat 'and'. Glittering while walking is splendid but the and' makes you feel you have stumbled into it. Getting the right clumsiness is the trick.

There is another version of Richard Cory, by Simon and Garfunkel. Here it is:

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