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 Reuben Bright’s occupation as a butcher (line 1). Butchers see death, blood and gore on a daily basis, but Reuben Bright is no more of “a brute than you or I” (4). Although he sees death regularly, the overbearing news of his wife’s inevitable demise causes him to break down. Robinson writes that, “when they told him that his wife must die / He stared at them, and shook with grief and fright” (5-6). Evidence shows that because of his wife’s passing that Reuben Bright tears down his slaughter-house. Reuben has seen enough death throughout his job and with his wife’s passing he chooses to demolish the slaughter-house.
Reuben Bright is surrounded by death because of his occupation as a butcher, but that does not make him any more of a barbarian than anyone else (4). Robinson’s speaker portrays Reuben as an upstanding citizen who makes “an honest living” (2). One can assume that Robinson is trying to say the job does not make the man. Butchers have various tasks in their profession that include cutting, trimming, boning, and grinding the meats of various dead animals. Typical animal meats that butchers deal with are beef, pork, and fish. Being able to move various objects like equipment and having manual dexterity, the ability to...