Sep 23, 2022 • 21M

Isaac and Archibald

Edwin Arlington Robinson

Upgrade to listen

Appears in this episode

Anthony Esolen
Poetry Aloud will help you learn how to read poetry with your ears. Unlike children with bad table manners, poetry is meant to be heard and not just seen. Join Anthony Esolen every other week (or so) as he introduces and discusses a longish poem and then reads it aloud.
Episode details

This week’s podcast is my reading of a poem of some length, a wistful reminiscence by Edwin Arlington Robinson, who imagines himself as a boy with two old men for friends, Isaac and Archibald, as he looks back upon them from the vantage of grown manhood many years later. Like so many American poems written not all that long ago, “Isaac and Archibald” seems to describe a lost world, one in which a boy might tag along after an old man on a five-mile walk to visit another old man, his friend that he worries about (for each of the old men worries about the other one). The boy might be gone all day, and nobody would think it ill or unusual. For that is the sort of thing boys have always done, as Robinson’s speaker himself says; it is a “small boy’s adhesiveness / To competent old age.”

The poem is written in blank verse, that is, unrhymed iambic pentameter, with five strong beats per line. (Sometime soon I will explain it to everyone.) It’s the meter most natural for rendering Eng…

Listen to this episode with a 7-day free trial

Subscribe to

Word & Song by Anthony Esolen
to listen to this episode and get 7 days of free access to the full post archives.