Take Heart: A Conversation in Poetry: The House on the Hill
Edited and introduced by Wesley McNair, Maine Poet Laureate
Edwin Arlington Robinson is one of Maine’s most famous poets, and this week’s poem is perhaps America’s best-known villanelle. Some biographers have speculated that the subject of the poem is the Robinson house in Gardiner, following the death of the poet’s mother and father and the decline of the family fortunes.
The House on the Hill by Edwin Arlington Robinson
They are all gone away, The House is shut and still, There is nothing more to say.Through broken walls and gray The winds blow bleak and shrill: They are all gone away.Nor is there one to-day To speak them good or ill: There is nothing more to say.Why is it then we stray Around the sunken sill? They are all gone away,And our poor fancy-play For them is wasted skill: There is nothing more to say.There is ruin and decay In the House on the Hill: They are all gone away, There is nothing more to say.
Take Heart: A Conversation in Poetry is produced in collaboration with the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance. Poem copyright © 2003 Edwin Arlington Robinson. Reprinted from The Maine Poets, Down East Books, 2003, public domain. Questions about submitting to Take Heart may be directed to Gibson Fay-LeBlanc, Special Consultant to the Maine Poet Laureate, at email@example.com or 207-228-8263. Take Heart: Poems from Maine, an anthology collecting the first two years of this column, is now available from Down East Books.