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

I. The Man Against the Sky

24. Bewick Finzer

TIME was when his half million drew

The breath of six per cent;

But soon the worm of what-was-not

Fed hard on his content;

And something crumbled in his brain

When his half million went.

Time passed, and filled along with his

The place of many more;

Time came, and hardly one of us

Had credence to restore,

From what appeared one day, the man

Whom we had known before.

The broken voice, the withered neck,

The coat worn out with care,

The cleanliness of indigence,

The brilliance of despair,

The fond imponderable dreams

Of affluence,—all were there.

Poor Finzer, with his dreams and schemes,

Fares hard now in the race,

With heart and eye that have a task

When he looks in the face

Of one who might so easily

Have been in Finzer’s place.

He comes unfailing for the loan

We give and then forget;

He comes, and probably for years

Will he be coming yet,—

Familiar as an old mistake,

And futile as regret.