Rueben Bright's Dark Days

Good Essays
Traci Letellier
English 1023
12 March 2013

Reuben Bright’s Dark Days Death of a loved one is a phenomenon that one cannot comprehend until it is experienced first hand. In Edwin Arlington Robinson’s poem, “Reuben Bright”, the theme the narrator portrays is that the death of Reuben Bright’s beloved wife is an unbearable pain that ultimately changes him and his life drastically. Robinson creates this poem as a traditional fourteen-line sonnet separated into three stanzas. The first two stanzas are quatrains, and the last stanza is a sestet. The poem uses iambic pentameter rhythm. This rhythm puts stress on the second syllable; each line has ten syllables and five iambic feet. In the opening stanza, the reader is informed of
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The second stanza addresses the helplessness of Reuben in his personal life and the inevitability of his wife’s passing. In the sestet, which follows the volta of this sonnet, the reader is informed of how Reuben reacts to the death and funeral of his wife; we see his upstanding character throughout most of the poem, but his final action seems harsh and almost irrational. Lines nine and ten use enjambment to describe how after his wife’s death he pays for the funeral, singer, and preacher. This follows his high moral standards, because the butcher makes certain his wife’s funeral is prepared and executed. Funerals can be quite expensive, but with his “honest living” he pays off all of the fees; Reuben gives his wife an honorable memorial. After the funeral, “He packed a lot of things that she had made / Most mournfully away in an old chest” (11-12). Then he places chopped-up cedar boughs inside the chest to help preserve the items and give her things a sweet cedar scent (13). The butcher, like many others, wants to hold on to the items of the deceased as keepsakes to help remember he or she that passed away. As discussed, Reuben deals with death on a regular basis as a butcher, but the death of his wife makes him do something out of character. Line fourteen states that Reuben “tore down the slaughter-house” (14). Reuben is a hard
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