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Themes and Meanings

(Critical Guide to Poetry for Students)

“Eros Turannos” is about a doomed marriage in which an aging wife living in a coastal New England town holds onto the bleak relationship, even though she knows that her husband has betrayed her and that her love for him and his love for her are largely a self-created illusion.

The wife tries desperately, from pride and need, and in defiance of community gossip, to maintain a positive image of her husband, an image she knows is not true. Her husband, aware of her conflict, plays a deceptive role both with her and with himself. Intertwined images run through the poem suggesting the themes of deception, age, struggle, and decline, all of which are brought together at the end of the poem.

“Eros Turannos” is a peerless example, among many poems in Robinson’s literary canon, that demonstrates the truth of the critical verdict of Robert Frost, another excellent New England poet, who, in the introduction of King Jasper (1935), commented that “Robinson was a prince of heartachers amid countless achers of another part.He asserted the sacred right of poetry to lean its breast to a thorn and sing its dolefullest.”