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

I. The Man Against the Sky

21. Fragment

FAINT white pillars that seem to fade

As you look from here are the first one sees

Of his house where it hides and dies in a shade

Of beeches and oaks and hickory trees.

Now many a man, given woods like these,

And a house like that, and the Briony gold,

Would have said, “There are still some gods to please,

And houses are built without hands, we’re told.”

There are the pillars, and all gone gray.

Briony’s hair went white. You may see

Where the garden was if you come this way.

That sun-dial scared him, he said to me;

“Sooner or later they strike,” said he,

And he never got that from the books he read.

Others are flourishing, worse than he,

But he knew too much for the life he led.

And who knows all knows everything

That a patient ghost at last retrieves;

There’s more to be known of his harvesting

When Time the thresher unbinds the sheaves;

And there’s more to be heard than a wind that grieves

For Briony now in this ageless oak,

Driving the first of its withered leaves

Over the stones where the fountain broke.