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

VII. The Three Taverns

7. Demos


ALL you that are enamored of my name

And least intent on what most I require,

Beware; for my design and your desire,

Deplorably, are not as yet the same.

Beware, I say, the failure and the shame

Of losing that for which you now aspire

So blindly, and of hazarding entire

The gift that I was bringing when I came.

Give as I will, I cannot give you sight

Whereby to see that with you there are some

To lead you, and be led. But they are dumb

Before the wrangling and the shrill delight

Of your deliverance that has not come,

And shall not, if I fail you—as I might.


SO little have you seen of what awaits

Your fevered glimpse of a democracy

Confused and foiled with an equality

Not equal to the envy it creates,

That you see not how near you are the gates

Of an old king who listens fearfully

To you that are outside and are to be

The noisy lords of imminent estates.

Rather be then your prayer that you shall have

Your kingdom undishonored. Having all,

See not the great among you for the small,

But hear their silence; for the few shall save

The many, or the many are to fall—

Still to be wrangling in a noisy grave.