Richard Cory

Richard Cory was perfection.

As Edwin Arlington Robinson wrote in 1897, Richard Cory was richer than a king. Schooled in every grace. And he was always human when he talked.

In fine, we thought that he was everything
To make us wish that we were in his place.

Yes, Richard Cory was perfection.

And Richard Cory, one calm summer night,
Went home and put a bullet through his head.

What are we to think of Richard Cory now?

Perfect people don’t commit suicide.

The story is an old and tragic one. Just as shocking now as it was then. We wished that we were in his place –

Richard Cory was perfection.

It doesn’t make sense. It doesn’t add up. How could we not have known? How could that happen?

We wished that we were in his place –

We might still be a little jealous.

Richard Cory was perfection.

We never knew Richard Cory.

What pain he must have felt. What horror. What unbearable emptiness that calm summer night –

How could we not have known?

Afterwards there are always discussions and debates. Memories and memorials. Sighs for prevention and scorns over cause.

But nothing changes that calm summer night –

Nothing can explain it or undo it or change it.

But perhaps – perhaps the world will be different. Not only absent a soul, but with added awareness:

This is normal.

This happens all of the time.

This happens to people we know – and we rarely know its happening.

We don’t know, but we imagine perfection. We imagine perfection and we don’t make the effort to know.

We just imagine perfection and wish that we were in his place.


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