Why He Was There

Much as he left it when he went from us
Here was the room again where he had been
So long that something of him should be seen,
Or felt — and so it was. Incredulous,
I turned about, loath to be greeted thus,
And there he was in his old chair, serene
As ever, and as laconic and as lean
As when he lived, and as cadaverous.

Calm as he was of old when we were young,
He sat there gazing at the pallid flame
Before him. “And how far will this go on?”
I thought. He felt the failure of my tongue,
And smiled: “I was not here until you came;
And I shall not be here when you are gone.”

— Edwin Arlington Robinson

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