Octaves By Edwin Arlington Robinson: Reading and Meditation

December 23, 2020  • Todd Breyfogle

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We shrink too sadly from the larger self. This selection from Edwin Arlington Robinson’s extended poem, “Octaves”, laments our propensity to abjure the grandeur that lies above and within us. Greed, fear, shame, undiscipline—these blind us to our own perversity in neglecting the cadence of heaven. This is a poet’s poem, laying bare the artist’s temptation to abandon the struggle to unveil created beauty. But the poem also betrays a temptation which besets us all—the alluring invitation to shrink from the struggle of being our larger self. We stand alone at the dock, but not companionless. The friendly, larger self of the poem is both our own potential excellence and God expressed in Love. To shrink from the larger self is to defraud both God and ourselves. The ship is sailing. Let us not stand alone at the dock.

Todd Breyfogle

Denver, Colorado

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