The German press is reporting that Adolf Merckle, who has been described as Germany's Warren Buffett, died when hit by a train. CNBC reported that Merckle committed suicide. He had lost a lot of money in a short squeeze on Volkswagen stock, but had reportedly obtained a bridge loan to shore up his investment company.
Somehow, Edwin Arlington Robinson's poem comes to mind:
Whenever Richard Cory went downtown
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 grade:
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.
Edwin Arlington Robinson (1897)
In the comments below, some are debating why Richard Cory killed himself.
I think of George Orwell's line from "Benefit of Clergy" (his essay on Dali, included in this collection): "any life when viewed from the inside is simply a series of defeats."
I thought these comments might be illuminating:
"Richard Cory" is perhaps the best-known example of his respect for the inaccessible recesses of man's inner being . . ." W.R. Robinson, Edwin Arlington Robinson: A Poetry of the Act (1967).
"The dramatist sets in operation a chain of circumstances in which his characters are unconsciously brought to book by their own past. The method of the naturalistic novelist is quite different; absolved of the necessity of a demonstration, he tends to be less and less concerned with incident and to become preoccupied with the effect of experience on character; the drama is purely internal and is revealed by minute and acute psychological analysis. When this method is applied to dramatic material the very absence of the terms in the demonstration essential to the dramatist produces the effect of irony. Consider, for example, Richard Cory: . . .
Here we have a man's life-story distilled into sixteen lines. A dramatist would have been under the necessity of justifying the suicide by some train of events in which Richard Cory's character would have inevitably betrayed him. A novelist would have dissected the psychological effects of these events upon Richard Cory. The poet, with a more profound grasp of life than either, shows us only what life itself would show us; we know Richard Cory only through the effect of his personality upon those who were familiar with him, and we take both the character and the motive for granted as equally inevitable. Therein lies the ironic touch, which is intensified by the simplicity of the poetic form in which this tragedy is given expression." Lloyd Morris, The Poetry of Edwin Arlington Robinson: An Essay in Appreciation (1923).