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

II. The Children of the Night

33. George Crabbe

GIVE him the darkest inch your shelf allows,

Hide him in lonely garrets, if you will,—

But his hard, human pulse is throbbing still

With the sure strength that fearless truth endows.

In spite of all fine science disavows,

Of his plain excellence and stubborn skill

There yet remains what fashion cannot kill,

Though years have thinned the laurel from his brows.

Whether or not we read him, we can feel

From time to time the vigor of his name

Against us like a finger for the shame

And emptiness of what our souls reveal

In books that are as altars where we kneel

To consecrate the flicker, not the flame.