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Of all Robinson’s many failures, perhaps the most sympathetic is old Eben Flood of "Mr. Flood's Party," because in his case the failure is from a weakness not of conscience but of flesh: old age has overwhelmed him and left him friendless, an unwilling exile, doomed to holding an ironic "party" with himself. His name is as symbolic as Richard Cory's, since pronouncing Eben Flood as if Eben is short for Ebenezer leads to the conclusion that while his fortunes may once have been at their flood, they are now at their ebb: "There was not much that was ahead of him." We see Mr. Flood pathetically alone, on a hillside looking down at the town where he was once happy, "Where friends of other days had honored him." Now he has only himself, and he has sought solace in drink, having carried along with him "The jug that he had gone so far to fill," from which he offers a toast to himself in the silence and darkness. Robinson ironically compares his Mr. Flood to two literary figures: Omar Khayyam, the Persian author of "The bird is on the wing" (Robinson quotes these words in "Mr. Flood's Party" from Edward FitzGerald's translation of the Rubayatt: "the Bird of Time, has but a little while / To flutter, and the bird is on the wing"); and Roland, the medieval knight who in The Song of Roland blew his horn too late to bring reinforcements to the Christian troops of Charlemagne to save them from the attacking Moors. In the first case, Mr. Flood quotes Omar to say, not that he has little time to enjoy wine, women, and song as Omar did, but that he has little time to live, and in the second case, he catches Mr. Flood just as he is raising his jug to drink and says he is "Like Roland's ghost winding a silent horn." The allusions imply a doubly ironic contrast: Mr. Flood's drinking alone in old age shows neither the Persian poet's lighthearted hedonism nor the French knight's heroic martyrdom, but an ironic pathos at the end of life.

Later in the poem, Mr. Flood "lifted up his voice and sang" the familiar New Year's Eve drinking song "For Auld Lang Syne." Burns's Scottish words are nostalgic, but convivial, about "times long past," but they, too, have an ironic ring coming from Mr. Flood’s lips, accented by the additional mockery of his slightly drunken condition, which is "Secure, with only two moons listening." There is a saving humor in this tipsy figure to relieve the pathos in Robinson’s realistic portrait of the old man, who at the end is left with a bleak landscape around him and a lonely fate to contemplate, since

        there was nothing in the town below—

Where strangers would have shut the many doors

That many friends had opened long ago.

Eben Flood is the last of his generation in Tilbury Town, and Robinson’s poem places him in the New England townscape as it dramatizes memorably, yet wryly, the pitiable state of extreme old age.