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Sometimes we look in a poem for what is not there and was never intended to be there. We find him protesting to Mrs. Richards, with impatience showing through his jocularity "Good heavens, no! ‘The House on the Hill’ is no house that ever was, and least of all a stone house still in good order. I don’t know why they assume and say such fool things, but they do, and they will do so for evermore." 13 The poem seems mainly an effort to embody in words a moment of nostalgia, perhaps much like that which finds expression in On the Night of a Friend’s Wedding, and which was caused by the ringing of church bells "for the wedding of two people in whom I had not the remotest interest." These statements prepare us for the grimness of his comment that The Gift of God, where the theme of mother love blind to a son’s shortcomings is so trite that it could have been made into poetry only by a union of pathos and irony and irresistible music such as nothing but genius could command, "has been interpreted as a touching tribute to our Saviour."

13 Letters, p 161. This apparently refers to Amy Lowell’s identification of "The House" as the Gardiner mansion in Robinson’s home town. Mr. Neff, similarly specific, finds in the poem "a contemporary local tragedy—the forsaking of the East for the broader lands and wider opportunities of the West" (p 53). But, as the same critic points out, Robinson was not at that time much interested in social problems, at least as themes for poems. The poet’s own comment, beyond which there is no reason to go, is simply that it "is a little mystical perhaps and is an attempt to show the poetry of the commonplace" (Untriangulated Stars, p. 132).