April 09, 2020

Cliff Klingenhagen

Cliff Klingenhagen had me in to dine

With him one day; and after soup and meat,

And all the other things there were to eat,

Cliff took two glasses and filled one with wine

And one with wormwood. Then, without a sign

For me to choose at all, he took the draught

Of bitterness himself, and lightly quaffed

It off, and said the other one was mine.

And when I asked him what the deuce he meant

By doing that, he only looked at me

And smiled, and said it was a way of his.

And though I know the fellow, I have spent

Long time a-wondering when I shall be

As happy as Cliff Klingenhagen is.

Edwin Arlington Robinson (1869-1935) became during his lifetime one of the most widely read American poets of all time. His hometown was Gardiner, which he fictionalized in his poetry as “Tilbury Town.” “Cliff Klingenhagen,” recommended to us by BDN librarian Charlie Campo, develops an ironic theme similar to that of Robinson’s more famous poem “Richard Cory.” Robinson won the Pulitzer Prize for poetry three times, in 1922, 1925 and 1928, a couple of decades after his poems gained recognition from President Theodore Roosevelt.

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