Richard Cory

I chanced across this poem by Edward Arlington Robinson a few hours after I’d given my presentation on social mobility and social justice to the University of London Careers Group. Something about it resonated in the way it portrays structural inequality and hints that it might actually be bad for everyone, even those who are supposedly benefitting from the current structures.

The poem is also the inspiration for a song by Paul Simon which covers the same themes and tells the same story with a little more anger. I like this version of the song by Them.

I’m not sure that materials from the 1890s and 1960s will be particularly useful as materials in career education, but I hope that these stories of inequality and disappointment might stimulate some thinking for you as they did for me.



  1. I ran across the poem a few years after Paul Simon recorded his song. Very powerful stuff about the social condition in Victorian England. Some similar songs have been written on the same theme. For instance, “A Peculiar Man” (again by Paul Simon), “A Well Respected Man” (by the Kinks), and “A Lucky Man” (by Hamilton Joe Frank & Reynolds) all cover the same basic subject.

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