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

VIII. Avon’s Harvest, Etc.

11. Caput Mortuum

NOT even if with a wizard force I might

Have summoned whomsoever I would name,

Should anyone else have come than he who came,

Uncalled, to share with me my fire that night;

For though I should have said that all was right,

Or right enough, nothing had been the same

As when I found him there before the flame,

Always a welcome and a useful sight.

Unfailing and exuberant all the time,

Having no gold he paid with golden rhyme,

Of older coinage than his old defeat,

A debt that like himself was obsolete

In Art’s long hazard, where no man may choose

Whether he play to win or toil to lose.