Explication of Richard Cory The poem "Richard Cory" by Edwin Arlington Robinson is a poem written about the town aristocrat named Richard Cory. It is written with four quatrain stanzas with a rhyme scheme of a, b, a, b, for each stanza. The poet's use of hyperbole's and regal comparisons when describing Richard Cory help to elevate him above the townspeople, and his nonchalant mentioning of Cory's suicide leaves the reader in a state of shock. The first stanza of the poem introduces Richard Cory as a respected man of town. The second line uses the words "we people", implying that the townspeople recognized themselves as being on a different level than Cory. Describing them as being "on the pavement" gives the visual imagine of people sitting around on the street staring up at the wealthy aristocrat walking by.
The third line says Cory was "a gentleman from sole to crown." The word crown has obvious regal implications, which is more of Cory being elevated above the townspeople. Cory is not a gentleman from "head to toe", but instead from "sole to crown." The fourth line uses the phrase "imperially slim" to describe Cory. The word imperial means "belonging to an empire" or "grand." While imperial is not usually thought of as a way to describe slim, it is more of Robinson expressing the importance of Cory. The second stanza shows how the town adores Cory. After the first stanza's description one might think Cory elevated himself above the others. Line 6 disproves this by saying "he was always human when he talked." This tells the reader that Cory talked as though he was on the same level as the others, not pretending to be a king or noble.
Lines seven and eight show more of the town's worship of Cory. The townspeople are described as having "fluttered pulses" merely by being told "good-morning" by Cory. The visual image this gives could be compared to a flock of pre-teenage girls fainting at the mention of a teen-idol's name. The eight line also says Cory "glittered when he walked." Glittered is an interesting word choice, as it seems like Cory is made of diamonds that reflect in the sun as he strolls through the town. The third stanza talks more of Cory being great, and actually compares him to a king. In line 9 Robinson uses a hyperbole in saying that Cory was "richer than a king." Lines 11 and 12 are the interesting lines in this stanza, as it tells how the townspeople "thought that he was everything" and wished "that we were in his place." It is the townspeople thinking Cory was everything and wishing they were him without actually knowing him that leads to the conclusion in stanza four.
The fourth stanza holds the shocking conclusion to this poem. It begins normal enough, showing the townspeople once again being below Cory. Saying that they went without meat and "cursed the bread" literally means they could only afford bread. Line fifteen describes the night as "one calm summer night." This sets a nice tone of calmness and relaxing, which is offset by line seventeen where Richard Cory "put a bullet through his head." This poem is about a man who was so revered by the town that he was put on a pedestal of his own, but unfortunately was on that pedestal alone.
Everything leading up to the last line seems fine, in fact even the second to last line still does not hint that anything is wrong. The poet does this to show that the rest of the town new nothing of who the real Richard Cory was, otherwise they would have noticed something was wrong. The message this poem gets across is that outward appearance does not show who a person is, only what the person wants others to know.