Thursday, January 14, 2016

Richard Cory

    Another theme on the recital which Martin and I will be performing February 26 is not comparing your insides to other peoples outsides.  It's best not to compare your insides to someone's outsides because a lot of people are acting on the outside.  People look great on the outside.  They have a good job, they've lost weight they are successful, etc... However, I think it's what's going on inside that counts.  I personally am constantly working on my insides which can be very painful, but it's essential for me.  I have known of several people who looked good on the outside and actually committed suicide.  They were able to fool people who weren't close to them like the character in the song I am about to talk about.
   The song "Richard Cory" by John Duke, based on Edwin Arlington Robinson's poem, which Martin and I will be performing is about this very idea of someone looking great on the outside but being a mess on the inside.  Richard Cory is putting on an act for people.  He has an unmistakable charm to him.  However, he is suffering on the inside because he shoots himself in the head at the end of the poem.  Duke ends the song with a clash to show the shock of Mr. Cory's demise.  This poem totally applies to real life.  People who seem to have their life together commit suicide because they feel terrible on the inside.
   There is also the fact that Richard Cory might have been mentally ill but not appeared  that way when he was out on the town.  Suicide is not something I understand.  I assume that people who kill themselves don't think they have any other choice in that moment.  I'm not qualified to make that assessment.  The moral of this story for me is to not compare my insides to other peoples outsides.
   Another theory I had before I found out the year the poem was written was that this might have had to do with the Great Depression.  It does not though because the poem was published in the 1890s and the song was published in 1948.  Since Duke lived during the Great Depression he might have had that in mind when he set this poem.
   If you want to listen to "Richard Cory", Donald Gramm also recorded this song.  The three Duke settings of Robinson's poems are "Richard Cory", "Luke Havergall", and "Miniver Cheevy."  Martin and I will be performing "Richard Cory" and "Miniver Cheevy" as the first set for our recital.   Here is the poem.

Whenever Richard Cory went down town,
We people on the pavement looked at him:
He was a gentleman from sole to crown,
Clean favored, and imperially slim.

And he was always quietly arrayed,
And he was always human when he talked;
But still he fluttered pulses when he said,
"Good-morning," and he glittered when he walked.

And he was richyes, richer than a king
And admirably schooled in every grace:
In fine, we thought that he was everything
To make us wish that we were in his place.

So on we worked, and waited for the light,
And went without the meat, and cursed the bread;
And Richard Cory, one calm summer night,
Went home and put a bullet through his head.

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