The Burning Book

Edwin Arlington Robinson

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OR THE CONTENTED METAPHYSICIAN


TO the lore of no manner of men
Would his vision have yielded
When he found what will never again
From his vision be shielded,—
Though he paid with as much of his life
As a nun could have given,
And to-night would have been as a knife,
Devil-drawn, devil-driven.

For to-night, with his flame-weary eyes
On the work he is doing,
He considers the tinder that flies
And the quick flame pursuing.
In the leaves that are crinkled and curled
Are his ashes of glory,
And what once were an end of the world
Is an end of a story.

But he smiles, for no more shall his days
Be a toil and a calling
For a way to make others to gaze
On God’s face without falling.
He has come to the end of his words,
And alone he rejoices
In the choiring that silence affords
Of ineffable voices.

To a realm that his words may not reach
He may lead none to find him;
An adept, and with nothing to teach,
He leaves nothing behind him.
For the rest, he will have his release,
And his embers, attended
By the large and unclamoring peace
Of a dream that is ended.

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Comments2
  • juliannewhitley

    Wow, this poem really touched me. The imagery of the poet describing the vision that would never be shielded again was just so powerful. The words made me think deeply about our search for meaning in life and all the work we put into it. Sometimes, it feels like we push ourselves so hard, maybe too hard, just to make an impact in this world.

    • lefty12_

      Just read "The Burning Book", man, that's pretty deep stuff. Makes ya think about how we all end up just ashes in the end, and all our goals and dreams kinda loose their meaning. Quiet and peaceful finish, though. Kinda like achieving peace through letting go of everything. Really intense!