The Poetry Nook

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THE SUCCESSFUL ILLUSION

This discussion focuses on the poem "Richard Cory", by Edwin Arlington Robinson, the song by the same name by Paul Simon, and "Company Car" by Switchfoot, which shares a similar theme with these two poems. The poems are posted below.


RICHARD CORY
By 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.

- Edwin Arlington Robinson -
" The Children Of The Night "


RICHARD CORY
by Paul Simon

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.

- Paul Simon -
" Sounds Of Silence", 1966



For a site with more information on these two versions of Richard Cory, click here.


COMPANY CAR
by Switchfoot

Mike was right
when he said I'd put up a fight
to be someone
a fight to be me
But see now, I'm down
under the pavement
of capital hills
and lowercase people

As time rolls by
my dreams have become
that which was attainable
not what I'm looking for!

I've got the company car
I'm the one swinging at two below par
Yeah, I've become one with the
ones that I've never believed in
But I've got the company car

I'm the king of things
I've always despised
I'm the gingerbread man
who got eaten alive
I'm half-baked! I'm fake!
But see I got hotels
on Park Place and Boulevard
and two hundred bucks
I pass go, but Oh!
life's taken its toll
Have I won monopoly
to forfeit my soul?

All the king's horses
at the foot of the wall
They're taking pictures
of the man who's lost all
of his masks of pretension
He's got two faces left
His is the one that he hides
on the left behind that smile

Hiding tears and fear
that burns like an engine
It drives him away from
the ones that he loves
Mike was right:
Hey Mike! We're one and the same;
We're the faceless combatants
in the loneliest game

Ah but say, I'll wave as
I'm driving by
with that smirk in my eye, yelling
Hey! I'm something man, check me out!


To find out more about Switchfoot, got to Swtichfoot's Main Site, or if like me, you have trouble downloading flash, try this site (which is not the official site, but very good.)


To discuss these poems at the Starbuck Poetry Chat Rooms, click HERE.


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