Miniver Cheevy

Miniver Cheevy

by Edwin Arlington Robinson

 Miniver Cheevy, child of scorn,
Grew lean while he assailed the seasons;
He wept that he was ever born,
And he had reasons.
Miniver loved the days of old
When swords were bright and steeds were prancing;
The vision of a warrior bold
Would set him dancing.

Miniver sighed for what was not,
And dreamed, and rested from his labors;
He dreamed of Thebes and Camelot,
And Priam’s neighbors.

Miniver mourned the ripe renown
That made so many a name so fragrant;
He mourned Romance, now on the town,
And Art, a vagrant.

Miniver loved the Medici,
Albeit he had never seen one;
He would have sinned incessantly
Could he have been one.

Miniver cursed the commonplace
And eyed a khaki suit with loathing;
He missed the mediæval grace
Of iron clothing.

Miniver scorned the gold he sought,
But sore annoyed was he without it;
Miniver thought, and thought, and thought,
And thought about it.

Miniver Cheevy, born too late,
Scratched his head and kept on thinking;
Miniver coughed, and called it fate,
And kept on drinking.

Summary of Miniver Cheevy

  • Popularity of “Miniver Cheevy”: Edwin Arlington Robinson, a renowned American poet, wrote ‘Miniver Cheevy’. It was first published in 1910 in The Town Down, The River and is known as one of the famous narrative poems of English literature. The poem comprises the discontent of the speaker about the modern world. It also presents the contemporary world in contrast with the heroic and romantic past. Since its publication, it has gained popularity on account the character, Miniver’s innocence, and his love for the past.
  • “Miniver Cheevy”, As a Comment on the Modern World: The poem deals with the speaker’s concern, his serious thoughts, and lamentation over his late birth. Miniver is a young man living in the wrong era where the modern approach has replaced everything. He is a great admirer of the past because he believes that it was the time of warriors and heroism, which is lost in the world around him. Throughout the poem, the boy tries to give reasons for his discontent from the modern world and adores the chivalry, literature, and romances of the past. He also blames the modern world for the change it has brought. His excessive intake of alcohol adds more to his agony.
  • Major Themes in “Miniver Cheevy”: Nostalgia, discontent, and glorification of the past are the major themes of this poem. The poem deals with the emotions of a sad and gloomy speaker who curses his existence in the modern world. He is the great disciple of the past where bravery and courage were appreciable virtues. Also, he fails to accept the modern transformation technology has brought in the world. However, his extreme denial of the contemporary world leads him toward self-destructive behavior and outright disenchantment.

Analysis of Literary Devices in “Miniver Cheevy”

Literary devices are tools the writers use to create meanings in their texts to enhance the poems or stories and connect the readers with the real message of the text. Edwin has also used some literary devices in this poem. The analysis of some of the literary devices used in this poem has been given below.

  1. Anaphora: It refers to the repetition of a word or phrases at the beginning of the verses. Edwin has repeated the word “thought” to emphasize his feelings about his wrong birth in the seventh stanza where it is stated as,

“Miniver thought, and thought, and thought,
And thought about it.”

2. Enjambment: It is defined as a thought or clause that does not come to an end at a line break. Instead, it moves over to the next line such as:

“He would have sinned incessantly
Could he have been one.”

3. Assonance: Assonance is the repetition of vowel sounds in the same line such as the sound of /e/ in “He missed the medieval grace” and “Miniver Cheevy, child of scorn.”

4. Personification: Personification is to give human qualities to non-human things. For example: “He mourned Romance, now on the town, And Art, a vagrant” as ‘art’ is a person who can wander

5. Allusions: Allusion is an indirect reference to a person, place, thing or idea of a historical, cultural, political or literary significance. For example,

“He dreamed of Thebes and Camelot,
And Priam’s neighbors.”

These illusions give the clue of the world where Miniver lives in his dreams.

6. Consonance: Consonance is the repetition of consonant sounds in the same line such as the sound of /th/ in “Miniver thought, and thought, and thought” and the sound of /n/ in “He mourned Romance, now on the town.”

7. Irony: Irony is a figure of speech in which words are used in such a way that their intended meaning is different from the actual meaning of the words. For example, “Miniver sighed for what was not”; “Albeit he had never seen one” and “But sore annoyed was he without it.” These examples show that Miniver does not accept reality. Even if he knows that he cannot change anything.

This literary analysis shows that this poem, though seems like a simple composition, the appropriate use of these literary elements has made it a thought-provoking piece for the readers.

Analysis of Poetic Devices in “Miniver Cheevy”

Poetic and literary devices are the same, but a few are used only in poetry. Here is the analysis of some of the poetic devices used in this poem.

  1. Stanza: A stanza is a poetic form of some lines. There are eight stanzas in this poem, with each stanza comprising of four lines.
  2. Quatrain: A quatrain is a four-lined stanza borrowed from Persian poetry. Here, each stanza is quatrain as the first one and the second one.
  3. Rhyme Scheme: The rhyme scheme followed by the entire poem is ABAB.
  4. Iambic Tetrameter: It is a type of meter having four iambs per line. The poem comprises Iambic tetrameter such as, He wept that he was ever born.”

Quotes to be Used

The lines stated below can be used when teaching history to the children. The words like, “swords were bright” and “warrior bold” indicate that it was the age of bravery, courage, heroism, and determination.

“Miniver loved the days of old
When swords were bright and steeds were prancing;
The vision of a warrior bold
Would set him dancing.”