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Edwin Arlington Robinson (1869–1935). Collected Poems. 1921.

V. The Town Down the River

10. Uncle Ananias

HIS words were magic and his heart was true,

And everywhere he wandered he was blessed.

Out of all ancient men my childhood knew

I choose him and I mark him for the best.

Of all authoritative liars, too,

I crown him loveliest.

How fondly I remember the delight

That always glorified him in the spring;

The joyous courage and the benedight

Profusion of his faith in everything!

He was a good old man, and it was right

That he should have his fling.

And often, underneath the apple-trees,

When we surprised him in the summer time,

With what superb magnificence and ease

He sinned enough to make the day sublime!

And if he liked us there about his knees,

Truly it was no crime.

All summer long we loved him for the same

Perennial inspiration of his lies;

And when the russet wealth of autumn came,

There flew but fairer visions to our eyes—

Multiple, tropical, winged with a feathery flame,

Like birds of paradise.

So to the sheltered end of many a year

He charmed the seasons out with pageantry

Wearing upon his forehead, with no fear,

The laurel of approved iniquity.

And every child who knew him, far or near,

Did love him faithfully.