“Richard Cory” by Edwin Arlington Robinson
“Richard Cory” by Edwin Arlington Robinson

“Richard Cory” by Edwin Arlington Robinson

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  • Pages: 4 (2055 words)
  • Published: November 29, 2018
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Adaptation of literature works has been of great importance on songwriting history since the start song composition. As soon as songs were recognized to have the power to convey literary messages in music, literary works became the wealth of ideas for songs. Many critics of literary works saw the ever growing incident of adaptation as a betrayal to the literary principles because they viewed songs as only a mass medium without in depth and originality. When song adaptations are judged by literary critics to have a literary bias, song and music critics and theorists justifiably protest. If a message is conveyed only by the literary manner of it, a song might begin in a disadvantaged position. This explains much of the uproar over literature on extratextuall adaptations in songs. If a literal work defines the message and tells the story, the songs, eve followed by its video clip; by nature of its difference from the literal work then inevitably appears as a sorry second.

It is however insignificant to try and prove the superiority of one over the other. In the adaptation of the Poem “Richard Cory” by Edwin Arlington Robinson, into the song “Richard Cory” by Simon and Garfunkel for example, it can be said that the poem handles the outlook and expresses the internal state of mind in a manner that is more complicated than the song (Wagner, 1975). On the other hand, the song has the benefits of image, sound and dramatic expression at its disposal and gives a parallel and completely different version of

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the same message which is impossible with the poem. Therefore, seeking to create a hierarchy between the two, poem and the song, will unproductive as much as it will be subjective.

Intertextuality is a term made-up by Kristeva (1980) and it is used to “signify the multiple ways in which any one literary text echoes … other texts whether by open or covert citations and allusion, or by the assimilation of the formal and substantive features of an earlier text”. This is exactly what we see in the two kinds of art work unders study in this research paper. Will first look at the two types of “Richard Cory” as a poem first, then as song and try to analyze how extratextual adaptation of one relates to the other.

The poem “Richard Cory” was first published in Robinson’s second book of poem collctions, Children of the night. It is a lyrical, short and dramatic sketch of a character that has made Robinson very famous. In this poem, Robinson describes a wealthy person who is well mannered, educated and is admired by many people in his town. The town that is imaginatively created by Robison is “TilburyTown” which he populates with various frustrated people and he (Robinson) is one of them. The poem can be taken to be an ironic commentary on the dream of success, power and wealth in America. This is because Cory goes home and kills himself despite the wealth and admiration he has commanded in that particular town. The reason Cory kills himself is unspecified, perhaps alienation from othe

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people or spiritual emptiness. His suicide leaves those people who admired him and wanted to be like him amazed at the purpose of living. Throughout this poem, the poet introduces explores the classic theme of not judging people by their appearance; rather, there is more to a person’s life rather than just what appears on the outside. The poem also suggests the idea that money cannot buy happiness. Robinson appears to question the morals of both Cory and the persona as well as the values of the American dream.

The song “Richard Cory” was written by Paul Simon in 1965 and was recorded by Paul Simon and Garfunkel and released in 1966 as part of their second a album Sounds of Silence. The song tells a story of Richard Cory from the point of view of one of the workers in his factory. This worker admires Richard Cory and envies the advantages and beefits Cory enjoys and he believes that Cory is a satisfied man. With all the attention he has from the media and his charitable hand to the less fortunate paints Cory as almost an ideal man with a perfect life. The Cory in this song suffers the same fate as the one in the poem because the song ends with a similar verse with that of the poem: “Richard Cory went home last night and put a bullet through his head.” The chorus repeats itself after each verse with the worker saying how he wishes he was Cory even after he learns that Cory has killed himself.

This song is extratextuall to the poem to some degree. This is because; it refers to text in the poem whose contents and ideas the text of the song resides. The song is based on the original text in the poem and uses references within the poem like: the title of the song “Richard Cory” is exactly the same as the title of the original poem by E.A. Robinson (1897), having been writenn many years before the composition of the son by P. Simon (1965). Explicit enabled the songwriter to use a set of meanings from the poem to finely suggest a different dimension to the song. While adapting, the original text was transformed extratextually into a musical or melodious text. This transformation of medium from the poem to the song involved different parts and elements of the poem. The structures, signs, characters, the order of events of the poem produced a multitude of great combinations in the song adaptation.

Simon adapted the structure of Robison’s poem by using the same number of stanzas as used in the poem. Each stanza had the same number of lines like those in the poem with the only difference being in repetitive chorus. The chorus is absent in the poem and is used by the songwriter as a peak point; a point of emphasis on his message that the speaker was not really satisfied with the life he led as a peasant and as casual worker. He just admired Cory and wanted to be like him, even after his death. The poem does not

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