What is the difference in the poet's tones  in "Miniver Cheevy" and "Mr.Flood's Party"? 

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Indeed, there is a sharp difference in tone between Robinson's poems, "Miniver Cheevy" and "Mr. Flood's Party."  For, it is with satire that Miniver, who "sighed for what was not/And dreamed" is described, while Eben Flood's thoughts are accompanied by a certain ironic pathos. For, Miniver "sighed for what was not," dreaming of days of the Medici and times in which--Robinson describes satirically--there was "the mediaeval grace/ Of iron clothing" as he scorns his khaki military uniform.  Further, Miniver Cheevy's yearning to have lived in another age seems insincere and ridiculous, as the man who "loved the Medici/Albeit he had never seen one," and "who cursed the commonplace" yet seems to lack any genuineness as he

...scorned the gold he sought,

But sore annoyed was he without it;

Miniver thought, and thought, and thought,

And thought about it. 

On the other hand, while Miniver Cheevy scratches his head, old Eben Flood engages in a soliloquy of poignant memories of poetry and lost friends. An intelligent and pensive man, he recalls lines from classic poetry, such as The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyan, and The Song of Roland. Truly, there is a poignancy to the irony of his lonely dialogue with "Mr. Flood" as they recall long-departed friends:

For soon amid the silver loneliness

Of night he lifted up his voice and sang,

Secure, with only two moons listening,...

"For auld lang syne."

....There was not much that was ahead of him,

And there was nothing in the town below--

Where strangers would hav shut the many doors

That many friends had opened long ago.

While "Miniver Cheevy" satirizes the pretentious, shallow man who imagines himself as fit for more chivalric times, but is in truth merely banal, "Mr. Flood's Party" treats with fresh irony and pathos the musings of what one critic calls "a valiant spirit, an object of admiration, pity, and humor" who, alone with a jug, faces with poetic dignity his tragic future.