In Edwin Arlington Robinson's poem, "Mr. Flood's Party," does warily (line 5) mean softly, cautiously, negatively, or with grave seriousness?  

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Susan Hurn eNotes educator| Certified Educator

"Warily" means cautiously, which makes sense in the context of the stanza. Here are the lines:

Old Eben Flood, climbing along one night
Over the hill between the town below
And the forsaken upland hermitage
That held as much as he should ever know
On earth again of home, paused warily.         5
The road was his with not a native near;
And Eben, having leisure, said aloud,
For no man else in Tilbury Town to hear:

Eben Flood is an old man traveling alone at night through a deserted area between his home and the town. It makes sense that he would be wary (cautious) in these surroundings. Notice that after he pauses, the next line says that "The road was his with not a native near." This suggests that Eben paused cautiously to see if someone else was nearby, perhaps someone who might threaten his safety. Also, he might have wanted to make sure he was alone before he started drinking. When he makes sure he is alone and feels safe, he "has leisure" to drink from his jug and express his emotions.