Richard Cory

Whenever Richard Cory went down town,

We people on the pavement looked at him:

He was a gentleman from sole to crown,

Clean favored, and imperially slim.


And he was always quietly arrayed,

And he was always human when he talked;

But still he fluttered pulses when he said,

“Good-morning,” and he glittered when he walked.


And he was rich — yes, richer than a king —

And admirably schooled in every grace:

In fine, we thought that he was everything

To make us wish that we were in his place.


So on we worked, and waited for the light,

And went without the meat, and cursed the bread;

And Richard Cory, one calm summer night,

Went home and put a bullet through his head.

Dive in
  1. What is the relationship between Richard Cory and the speaker?
  2. How does rhyme and meter move the poem forward?
  3. What does the poem suggest about envy?
  4. What does the poem suggest about privilege?
  5. If you were going to recite this poem, how would you avoid falling into a sing-song pattern?
  6. Write a poem imagining the inner sadness of a celebrity who appears on the surface to have it all.

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Watch the folk duo Simon & Garfinkel sing their adaptation of this poem:


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