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

V. The Town Down the River

25. Vickery’s Mountain

BLUE in the west the mountain stands,

And through the long twilight

Vickery sits with folded hands,

And Vickery’s eyes are bright.

Bright, for he knows what no man else

On earth as yet may know:

There’s a golden word that he never tells,

And a gift that he will not show.

He dreams of honor and wealth and fame,

He smiles, and well he may;

For to Vickery once a sick man came

Who did not go away.

The day before the day to be,

“Vickery,” said the guest,

“You know as you live what’s left of me—

And you shall know the rest.

“You know as you live that I have come

To this we call the end.

No doubt you have found me troublesome,

But you’ve also found a friend;

“For we shall give and you shall take

The gold that is in view;

The mountain there and I shall make

A golden man of you.

“And you shall leave a friend behind

Who neither frets nor feels;

And you shall move among your kind

With hundreds at your heels.

“Now this that I have written here

Tells all that need be told;

So, Vickery, take the way that’s clear.

And be a man of gold.”

Vickery turned his eyes again

To the far mountain-side,

And wept a tear for worthy men

Defeated and defied.

Since then a crafty score of years

Have come, and they have gone;

But Vickery counts no lost arrears:

He lingers and lives on.

Blue in the west the mountain stands,

Familiar as a face.

Blue, but Vickery knows what sands

Are golden at its base.

He dreams and lives upon the day

When he shall walk with kings.

Vickery smiles—and well he may.

The life-caged linnet sings.

Vickery thinks the time will come

To go for what is his;

But hovering, unseen hands at home

Will hold him where he is.

There’s a golden word that he never tells

And a gift that he will not show.

All to be given to some one else—

And Vickery not to know.