Poet Edwin Arlington Robinson wrote extensively on the issue of loneliness, the horror of the lonely mind with no companion. Robinson's poem Richard Cory is a helpful reminder of the importance of seeking to understand neighbors of whom it is easy to assume an intimate knowledge by merely observing their appearance or accepting their commonly accepted reputation. This is the lazy way to 'know' people. Sitting, talking, listening, explaining and being explained to for hours over coffee or beer is the harder but loving way to more accurately and truly know someone.
Whenever Richard Cory went down town,
We people on the pavement looked at him:
He was a gentleman from sole to crown,
Clean favored, and imperially slim.
And he was always quietly arrayed,
And he was always human when he talked;
But still he fluttered pulses when he said,
"Good morning," and he glittered when he walked.
And he was rich,-yes, richer than a king,-
And admirably schooled in every grace:
In fine, we thought that he was everything
To make us wish that we were in his place.
So on we worked, and waited for the light,
And went without the meat, and cursed the bread;
And Richard Cory, one calm summer night,
Went home and put a bullet through his head.