Edwin Arlington Robinson

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Edwin Arlington Robinson
Edwin Arlington Robinson

Edwin Arlington Robinson (December 22, 1869 – April 6, 1935) was an American poet, who won three Pulitzer Prizes for his work.


  • 1 Biography
  • 2 Poetry
  • 3 References
  • 4 External links


He was born in Tide Head, but his family moved to Gardiner, Maine in 1870. He described his childhood in Maine as "stark and unhappy."[1] His family also had problems with alcohol and his brother Herman died in part due to that. It has been speculated that his poem Richard Cory may relate to his brother. His early difficulties led many of his poems to have a dark pessimism and his stories to deal with "an American dream gone awry."[2]

He left Maine after high school to attend Harvard University. This lasted two years and later he went to New York City to be around other authors. His first volume of poems came out in 1896, but had limited distribution. His second volume, The Children of the Night, was publicly available. He had some financial difficulties as poet, but in 1905 Theodore Roosevelt gave him a job at a Customs Office because he was a fan of Robinson's work. He later quit that job to devote himself to poetry full time. He had literary success after that, but lived a solitary life and never married.[3] In the fall of 1891, at the age of 21, Edwin entered Harvard as a special student. He took classes on English, French, Shakespeare, and one on Anglo-Saxon that he later dropped. His mission was not to get all A's, as he wrote his friend Harry Smith, "B, and in that vicinity, is a very comfortable and safe place to hang".

His real desire was to get published in one of the Harvard literary journals. Within the first fortnight of being there, Robinson's Ballade of a Ship was published in the Harvard Advocate, a journal of less stature than the heralded Harvard Monthly. He was even invited to meet with the editors, but when he returned he complained to his friend Mowry Saben, "I sat there among them, unable to say a word". Robinson's literary career had false-started.

After Edwin's first year at Harvard the family endured what they knew was coming. His father Edward had died. He was buried at the top of the street in Oak Grove Cemetery in a plot purchased for the family.

In the fall Edwin returned to Harvard for a second year, but it was to be his last one as a student there. Though short, his stay in Cambridge included some his most cherished experiences, and it was there that he made his most lasting friendships. He wrote his friend Harry Smith on June 21, 1893:

"I suppose this is the last letter I shall ever write you from Harvard. The thought seems a little queer, but it cannot be otherwise. Sometimes I try to imagine the state my mind would be in had I never come here, but I cannot. I feel that I have got comparatively little from my two years, but still, more than I could get in Gardiner if I lived a century." Robinson was back in Gardiner by mid-summer, 1893. He had plans to start writing seriously. In October he wrote his friend Gledhill:

"Writing has been my dream ever since I was old enough to lay a plan for an air castle. Now for the first time I seem to have something like a favorable opportunity and this winter I shall make a beginning." With his father gone, Edwin became the man of the household. He farmed their plot of land, and much to his surprise he liked it. He was often too exhausted to write after a long day's work.

The Torrent and the Night Before

Edwin self-published his first book The Torrent and the Night Before. He paid 100 dollars for 500 copies. It was meant to be a surprise for his mother. Days before the copies arrived, however, Mary Palmer Robinson died of diptheria. She never got to see her son's published poetry.


  • The Torrent, 2003* The Children of the Night, 1897.
  • Richard Cory, 2003* Captain Craig and Other Poems, 1902.
  • The Town Down the River, 2003* Miniver Cheevy, 2003
  • Van Zorn, 1914.
  • The Porcupine, 1915.
  • The Man Against the Sky, 1916.
  • Merlin, 1917.
  • The Mill, 1919.
  • Ben Trovato, 1920
  • The Three Taverns, 1920.
  • Avon's Harvest, 1921.
  • Collected Poems, 1921.
  • Mr. Flood's Party, 1921.
  • Haunted House, 1921.
  • Roman Bartholomew, 1923.
  • The Man Who Died Twice, 1924.
  • Dionysus in Doubt, 1925.
  • Tristram, 1927.
  • Fortunatus, 1928.
  • Sonnets, 1889-1917, 1928.
  • Cavender's House, 1929.
  • Modred, 1929.
  • The Glory of the Nightingales, 1931.
  • Matthias at the Door, 1931.
  • Selected Poems, 1931.
  • Talifer, 1933.
  • Amaranth, 1934.
  • King Jasper, 1935.
  • Collected Poems, 1937.
  • New England, 1927
  1. ^ poets.org biography
  2. ^ PBS - I Hear America Singing
  3. ^ East Tennessee State University
  • Robinson Bokardo.com
  • [http://www.english.uiuc.edu/maps/poets/m_r/robinson/life.htm
  • .
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