Poets | Bookstore | Poem of the Day | Top 40 | Search | Comments | Privacy
December 28th, 2014 - we have 234 poets, 8,025 poems and 282,504 comments.
Biography of Edwin Arlington Robinson

Edwin Arlington Robinson

Edwin Arlington Robinson (1869 - 1935)

Edwin Arlington Robinson was a poet of transition. He lived at the time following the Civil War when America was rebuilding and changing rapidly and when the dominant values of the country seemed to be growing increasingly materialistic. Robinson's poetry was transitional, evaluating the present by using traditional forms and by including elements of transcendentalism and puritanism.

Robinson spent his childhood in a small town in Maine, a town which furnished him a setting for many of his poems as well as models for his characters. His father was a prosperous merchant; his mother had been a schoolteacher. The parents were primarily interested in their two older sons and tended to ignore Edwin, though they recognized his exceptional intelligence. While fond of his family, Edwin felt himself an outsider among them, as he also felt alienated from the society of his town.

Robinson studied at Harvard from 1891 to 1893 and afterward returned to Maine to stay for three years. Miserable and lonely most of the time, he moved to New York in 1895. His first volume of poems had been published while he was at home in Maine; in 1897 a second volume appeared. But he prospered neither as a poet nor as a businessman and ended by working as a checker of loads of shale during the building of the New York subway. In earning his living as a writer Robinson experienced the same difficulties as Hawthorne had fifty years before and was forced to the same humiliating expedients. Hawthorne checked sacks of coal as they were loaded in Boston Harbor; Robinson checked shale. Franklin Pierce, a grateful President, had rewarded his friend and campaign biographer, Hawthorne, with a post in the Sales Customs House and then with a more lucrative post as consul in Liverpool. Just so another president of the United States, Theodore Roosevelt, found Robinson's poetry impressive and helped him get a clerkship in the New York Customs House, where he worked until 1910. He sometimes may have encountered the ghost of Melville, who had spent the last lonely years of his life there, haunted by the feeling that he had failed as a writer.

Suddenly, with the poetic revival that preceded World War I, Robinson began to play a major role as a poet. After going his own way quietly for so many years, he became widely read and exerted a strong influence on other poets, notably Robert Frost. He was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for poetry three times in the 1920's, a record exceeded only by Frost, who received the prize four times in all.

The core of Robinson's philosophy is the belief that man's highest duty is to develop his best attributes as fully as possible. Success is measured by the intensity and integrity of his struggle; failure consists only in a lack of effort. Robinson was most interested in people who had either failed spiritually, or who seemed failures to the world but had really succeeded in gaining spiritual wisdom. Despite his apparent pessimism he refused to subscribe to a naturalistic view of life. Being by nature introspective and conscious of psychological depths, he was acutely aware of the spiritual side of man and relatively uninterested in the surface aspects of man's life as a social creature.

Robinson's best known statement on the hollowness of conventional success is the lyric poem, "Richard Cory". Although everyone respects and envies Cory, one night he fires a bullet through his head. We are left asking why, and Robinson does not give an answer. We can only suppose that what other people think and feel is not as important as what a person himself believes. Since Cory knows his life is worthless in spite of his "success," he puts an end to it.

In the other poems we see Robinson's compassion and humor. They are differently blended in each poem. "Miniver Cheevy" is marked by a broad, hyperbolic humor. The character whom the poem displays is a figure of fun. However, the humor is wry; we can laugh at the drunkard who drinks to escape, only as long as we ignore his plight. There is more than a him of self-portraiture in Miniver's deluded enchantment with a past that never was. The poem suggests, in a comic way, what Eugene O'Neill portrays in The Iceman Cometh; the survival value for the unsuccessful of delusion plus drink; for those who, like Cory, face up to the truth of things, a bullet may be inevitable.

We feel an even greater sympathy when we read "Mr. Flood's Party". For here is an old man, now completely friendless, his only company a jug of liquor. He is so lonely he talks to himself; so friendless that he has nothing left in life. Nevertheless, the situation Robinson describes to us is never mawkish. We sympathize, but we smile at the same time. Robinson uses mock-heroic comparisons and mock solemnity here with a delicate effect absent in "Miniver Cheevy." He invites our sympathy; he does not command it. When he compares Mr. Flood with the great medieval warrior Roland, blowing his horn to summon his comrades in an epic battle, he expects us to remember that splendid as Roland was in that battle, he died without his companions ever answering the call of his horn. Not the least of Robinson's skill lies in another technique; his ability to manage rhythms and sounds to convey the meaning and mooed of the poem. A good example is the perfectly modulated concluding lines of "Mr. Flood's Party." Robinson could have ended the poem with emphasis; he chooses instead to soften the rhythms and to diminish the ending with two dependent clauses. Our voice drops naturally and then levels off as we finish reading the poem, the old man's horn echoes and dies, unanswered.



177 Poems written by Edwin Arlington Robinson

The poems are by default sorted according to volume, but you can also choose to sort them alphabetically or by page views.

Volume | Alphabetically | Page Views | Comments | [First Lines]


First LineComments
(ALCAICS)
(AMSTERDAM, 1645) Comments and analysis of Rembrandt to Rembrandt by Edwin Arlington Robinson 16 Comments
(ROOSEVELT)
(To Mrs. Edward MacDowell)
(To Mrs. Henry Richards) Comments and analysis of Isaac and Archibald by Edwin Arlington Robinson 219 Comments
(WASHINGTON SQUARE)
A flying word from here and there Comments and analysis of The Master by Edwin Arlington Robinson 1 Comment
A melanholy face Charles Carville had,
A vanished house that for an hour I knew
Alone, remote, nor witting where I went,
Although I saw before me there the face
And there we were together again—
As often as he let himself be seen
As often as we thought of her,
As we the withered ferns Comments and analysis of Ballad of Dead Friends by Edwin Arlington Robinson 5 Comments
At first I thought there was a superfine
Aunt Imogen was coming, and therefore Comments and analysis of Aunt Imogen by Edwin Arlington Robinson 37 Comments
Because he puts the compromising chart
Because he was a butcher and thereby Comments and analysis of Reuben Bright by Edwin Arlington Robinson 4 Comments
Before there was in Egypt any sound
Between me and the sunset, like a dome Comments and analysis of The Man Against the Sky by Edwin Arlington Robinson 34 Comments
Blessed with a joy that only she Comments and analysis of The Gift of God by Edwin Arlington Robinson 1 Comment
Blue in the west the mountain stands,
By what serene malevolence of names Comments and analysis of Theophilus by Edwin Arlington Robinson 1 Comment
Child of a line accurst
Christmas was in the air and all was well Comments and analysis of Karma by Edwin Arlington Robinson 5 Comments
Cliff Klingenhagen had me in to dine Comments and analysis of Cliff Klingenhagen by Edwin Arlington Robinson 8 Comments
Come away! come away! there’s a frost along the marshes,
Could he have made Priscilla share
Dark hills at evening in the west, Comments and analysis of The Dark Hills by Edwin Arlington Robinson 3 Comments
Dear Friends, reproach me not for what I do, Comments and analysis of Dear Friends by Edwin Arlington Robinson 3 Comments
Down by the flash of the restless water
Faint white pillars that seem to fade
Fear, like a living fire that only death Comments and analysis of Avon's Harvest by Edwin Arlington Robinson 9 Comments
FIRST VOICE
For those that never know the light, Comments and analysis of The Children of the Night by Edwin Arlington Robinson 2 Comments
For what we owe to other days,
Foreguarded and unfevered and serene,
Four o'clock this afternoon,
Friendless and faint, with martyred steps and slow, Comments and analysis of Calvary by Edwin Arlington Robinson 4 Comments
From the Past and Unavailing
Gawaine, aware again of Lancelot
Give him the darkest inch your shelf allows,
Go to the western gate, Luke Havergal, -- Comments and analysis of Luke Havergal by Edwin Arlington Robinson 20 Comments
He knocked, and I beheld him at the door--
He took a frayed hat from his head,
Here there is death. But even here, they say,
Here was a place where none would ever come Comments and analysis of Haunted House by Edwin Arlington Robinson 34 Comments
Here where the wind is always north-north-east
His words were magic and his heart was true,
I
I
I
I Comments and analysis of Captain Craig by Edwin Arlington Robinson 12 Comments
I
I
I
I
I
I Comments and analysis of Variations of Greek Themes by Edwin Arlington Robinson 6 Comments
I
I cannot find my way: there is no star
I did not think that I should find them there
I found a torrent falling in a glen
I heard one who said: "Verily, Comments and analysis of Cassandra by Edwin Arlington Robinson 1 Comment
I pray you not, Leuconoë, to pore
I saw by looking in his eyes
I say no more for Clavering
I--THE EXPLANATION
If ever I am old, and all alone, Comments and analysis of On the Night of a Friend's Wedding by Edwin Arlington Robinson 5 Comments
In dreams I crossed a barren land, Comments and analysis of Ballad of Broken Flutes by Edwin Arlington Robinson 1 Comment
In Tilbury Town did Old King Cole
It may have been the pride in me for aught Comments and analysis of The Corridor by Edwin Arlington Robinson 1 Comment
I—THE LURE
Let him answer as he will,
Like a dry fish flung inland far from shore,
Long after there were none of them alive
Long warned of many terrors more severe
Miniver Cheevy, child of scorn, Comments and analysis of Miniver Cheevy by Edwin Arlington Robinson 491 Comments
Much as he left it when he went from us Comments and analysis of Why He Was There by Edwin Arlington Robinson 3 Comments
My northern pines are good enough for me,
Never mind the day we left, or the day the women clung to us;
Never was there a man much uglier Comments and analysis of Vain Gratuities by Edwin Arlington Robinson 1 Comment
No longer torn by what she knows
No matter why, nor whence, nor when she came, Comments and analysis of The Story Of The Ashes And The Flame by Edwin Arlington Robinson 44 Comments
No more with overflowing light Comments and analysis of For a Dead Lady by Edwin Arlington Robinson 1 Comment
Not even if with a wizard force I might Comments and analysis of Caput Mortuum by Edwin Arlington Robinson 1 Comment
NOTE.—Rahel Robert and Varnhagen von Ense were married, after many protestations on her part, in 1814. The marriage—so far as he was concerned at any rate—appears to have been satisfactory.
NOTE.—The following imaginary dialogue between Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr, which is not based upon any specific incident in American history, may be supposed to have occurred a few months previous to Hamilton’s retirement from Washington’s Cabinet in 1795 and a few years before the political ingenuities of Burr—who has been characterized, without much exaggeration, as the inventor of American politics—began to be conspicuously formidable to the Federalists. These activities on the part of Burr resulted, as the reader will remember, in the Burr-Jefferson tie for the Presidency in 1800, and finally in the Burr-Hamilton duel at Weehawken in 1804.
Nothing will hold him longer—let him go;
Now in a thought, now in a shadowed word,
Observant of the way she told Comments and analysis of Tact by Edwin Arlington Robinson 1 Comment
Of all among the fallen from on high,
Oh for a poet—for a beacon bright Comments and analysis of Sonnet by Edwin Arlington Robinson 2 Comments
Old Archibald, in his eternal chair, Comments and analysis of Archibald's Example by Edwin Arlington Robinson 6 Comments
Old Eben Flood, climbing alone one night Comments and analysis of Mr Flood's Party by Edwin Arlington Robinson 32 Comments
Once there was a cabin here, and once there was a man;
Once, when I wandered in the woods alone, Comments and analysis of Amaryllis by Edwin Arlington Robinson 1 Comment
OR THE CONTENTED METAPHYSICIAN
O’Leary was a poet—for a while: Comments and analysis of Shadrach O'Leary by Edwin Arlington Robinson 1 Comment
Pamela was too gentle to deceive Comments and analysis of The Tree In Pamela's Garden by Edwin Arlington Robinson 21 Comments
Shall I never make him look at me again? Comments and analysis of As a World Would Have It by Edwin Arlington Robinson 6 Comments
She fears him, and will always ask Comments and analysis of Eros Turannos by Edwin Arlington Robinson 216 Comments
She'd look upon us, if she could,
Since Persia fell at Marathon,
Since you remember Nimmo, and arrive Comments and analysis of Nimmo by Edwin Arlington Robinson 1 Comment
Slowly I smoke and hug my knee,
Small knowledge have we that by knowledge met
Some are the brothers of all humankind, Comments and analysis of The World by Edwin Arlington Robinson 2 Comments
Strange that I did not know him then. Comments and analysis of An Old Story by Edwin Arlington Robinson 6 Comments
Sweeping the chords of Hellas with firm hand,
Take it away, and swallow it yourself. Comments and analysis of An Island by Edwin Arlington Robinson 1 Comment
Ten years together without yet a cloud, Comments and analysis of Firelight by Edwin Arlington Robinson 23 Comments
The day was here when it was his to know
The Deacon thought. “I know them,” he began,
The doubt you fought so long
The ghost of Ninon would be sorry now Comments and analysis of Veteran Sirens by Edwin Arlington Robinson 1 Comment
The Lord Apollo, who has never died,
The man Flammonde, from God knows where, Comments and analysis of Flammonde by Edwin Arlington Robinson 2 Comments
The man who cloaked his bitterness within
The Master played the bishop’s pawn,
The master-songs are ended, and the man Comments and analysis of Walt Whitman by Edwin Arlington Robinson 1 Comment
The miller's wife had waited long, Comments and analysis of The Mill by Edwin Arlington Robinson 19 Comments
The table hurled itself, to our surprise,
There be two men of all mankind Comments and analysis of Two Men by Edwin Arlington Robinson 1 Comment
There is a drear and lonely tract of hell
There is a fenceless garden overgrown
There were faces to remember in the Valley of the Shadow,
They are all gone away, Comments and analysis of The House on the Hill by Edwin Arlington Robinson 249 Comments
They have made for Leonora this low dwelling in the ground,
They met, and overwhelming her distrust
Think not, because I wonder where you fled, Comments and analysis of Another Dark Lady by Edwin Arlington Robinson 2 Comments
Though for your sake I would not have you now
Though not for common praise of him, Comments and analysis of Sainte-Nitouche by Edwin Arlington Robinson 4 Comments
Through an ascending emptiness of night,
Through the shine, through the rain
Time was when his half million drew
Two brothers, Oakes and Oliver,
Two men came out of Shannon's, having known
Unyielding in the pride of his defiance,
Up from the street and the crowds that went, Comments and analysis of Her Eyes by Edwin Arlington Robinson 32 Comments
Up the old hill to the old house again
Vengeful across the cold November moors,
War shook the land where Levi dwelt,
We go no more to Calverly's,
We parted where the old gas-lamp still burned Comments and analysis of Afterthoughts by Edwin Arlington Robinson 2 Comments
We told of him as one who should have soared
Well, Bokardo, here we are;
When he protested, not too solemnly,
When he, who is the unforgiven,
When in from Delos came the gold
When the brethren heard of us, they came to meet us as far as Appii Forum, and The Three Taverns.—(Acts xxviii, 15) Comments and analysis of The Three Taverns by Edwin Arlington Robinson 1 Comment
When these graven lines you see, Comments and analysis of A Happy Man by Edwin Arlington Robinson 3 Comments
Whenever I go by there nowadays Comments and analysis of The Tavern by Edwin Arlington Robinson 2 Comments
Whenever Richard Cory went down town, Comments and analysis of Richard Cory by Edwin Arlington Robinson 1045 Comments
Where a faint light shines alone, Comments and analysis of The Dark House by Edwin Arlington Robinson 32 Comments
Why do you dig like long-clawed scavengers
Withal a meagre man was Aaron Stark, -- Comments and analysis of Aaron Stark by Edwin Arlington Robinson 7 Comments
Ye gods that have a home beyond the world,
Yes, you have it; I can see. Comments and analysis of Partnership by Edwin Arlington Robinson 12 Comments
You are a friend then, as I make it out,
You Eyes, you large and all-inquiring Eyes. Comments and analysis of For Ariva by Edwin Arlington Robinson 5 Comments
You that in vain would front the coming order Comments and analysis of The Old King's New Jester by Edwin Arlington Robinson 1 Comment
"Where are you going to-night, to-night, --
"Where's the need of singing now?"-- Comments and analysis of Momus by Edwin Arlington Robinson 1 Comment
“Be calm? And was I frantic? Comments and analysis of The Clinging Vine by Edwin Arlington Robinson 10 Comments
“Do I hear them? Yes, I hear the children singing—and what of it? Comments and analysis of London Bridge by Edwin Arlington Robinson 7 Comments
“Gawaine, Gawaine, what look ye for to see,
“No, Mary, there was nothing—not a word. Comments and analysis of Lazarus by Edwin Arlington Robinson 16 Comments
“Tell me what you’re doing over here, John Gorham, Comments and analysis of John Gorham by Edwin Arlington Robinson 252 Comments
“The sea is everywhere the sea.”
“There, but for the grace of God, goes…”
“They called it Annandale—and I was there Comments and analysis of How Annandale Went Out by Edwin Arlington Robinson 5 Comments
“We are false and evanescent, and aware of our deceit,
“When he was here alive, Eileen,
“Whether all towns and all who live in them—
“Why am I not myself these many days,


Books by Edwin Arlington Robinson
Robinson Info


Information
Copyright © 2000-2012 Gunnar Bengtsson. All Rights Reserved. Links | Bookstore