What is the poetic form of the poem "Richard Cory" by Edwin Arlington Robinson?

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"Richard Cory" by Edwin Arlington Robinson is a "narrative poem." The term "narrative poem" is used to describe a genre of poetry that tells a story. Although the work is formally a poem, in terms of content, it resembles a short story with a first person plural narrator who observes Cory's exterior actions but has no access to Cory's private thoughts or emotions.

In terms of poetic structure, the poem consists of four four-line stanzas. The stanzas are rhymed "ABAB," a form known as "open quatrains." Although this is the same rhyme scheme as is used in "common meter," the lines are iambic pentameter, rather than the alternating tetrameter and trimeter of common meter. Nonetheless, the rhyme scheme produces some of the effect of a ballad, a traditional type of narrative verse. The rhymes are regular masculine rhymes and most of the lines are end-stopped rather than enjambed.

The form of all the lines in the poem is "iambic pentameter." This means that each line consists of five iambic "feet." In other words, the smallest repeated rhythmical unit is an iambic foot consisting of an unstressed syllable followed by a stressed syllable, and this pattern is repeated five times (thus "pentameter").

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Edward Arlington Robinson's "Richard Cory" is a narrative poem that has an ironic perspective.  In this narrative, Richard Cory is submerged in the fastidious, and, as such, is perceived untruthfully by the people "on the pavement."  For they envision a kingly figure who is "imperially slim, "quietly arrayed," and polite--"and rich, yes richer than a king."  However, the exalted adjectives deceive both those who "curse the bread" and the reader.  For, ironically, Richard Cory leads "a life of quiet desperation" as Thoreau wrote.

While the economic depression of 1893 impoverished people, and they struggled to survive, Richard Cory--albeit wealthy--has his own personal demons with which he struggles.  His wealth has separated him so much from the ordinary people that he cannot converse with anyone.  When he smiles and says "Hello," his greeting goes no further.  The terrible loneliness of Cory may be at the heart of this narrative poem by Edward Arlington Robinson.

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