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

V. The Town Down the River

11. The Whip

THE DOUBT you fought so long

The cynic net you cast,

The tyranny, the wrong,

The ruin, they are past;

And here you are at last,

Your blood no longer vexed.

The coffin has you fast,

The clod will have you next.

But fear you not the clod,

Nor ever doubt the grave:

The roses and the sod

Will not forswear the wave.

The gift the river gave

Is now but theirs to cover:

The mistress and the slave

Are gone now, and the lover.

You left the two to find

Their own way to the brink

Then—shall I call you blind?—

You chose to plunge and sink.

God knows the gall we drink

Is not the mead we cry for,

Nor was it, I should think—

For you—a thing to die for.

Could we have done the same,

Had we been in your place?—

This funeral of your name

Throws no light on the case.

Could we have made the chase,

And felt then as you felt?—

But what’s this on your face,

Blue, curious, like a welt?

There were some ropes of sand

Recorded long ago,

But none, I understand,

Of water. Is it so?

And she—she struck the blow,

You but a neck behind …

You saw the river flow—

Still, shall I call you blind?