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

V. The Town Down the River

22. Alma Mater

HE knocked, and I beheld him at the door—

A vision for the gods to verify.

“What battered ancientry is this,” thought I,

“And when, if ever, did we meet before?”

But ask him as I might, I got no more

For answer than a moaning and a cry:

Too late to parley, but in time to die,

He staggered, and lay shapeless on the floor.

When had I known him? And what brought him here?

Love, warning, malediction, hunger, fear?

Surely I never thwarted such as he?—

Again, what soiled obscurity was this:

Out of what scum, and up from what abyss,

Had they arrived—these rags of memory?