poem index

poet

Edwin Arlington Robinson

Edwin Arlington Robinson

On December 22, 1869, Edwin Arlington Robinson was born in Head Tide, Maine (the same year as W. B. Yeats). His family moved to Gardiner, Maine, in 1870, which renamed "Tilbury Town," became the backdrop for many of Robinson's poems. Robinson described his childhood as stark and unhappy; he once wrote in a letter to Amy Lowell that he remembered wondering why he had been born at the age of six. After high school, Robinson spent two years studying at Harvard University as a special student and his first poems were published in the Harvard Advocate.

Robinson privately printed and released his first volume of poetry, The Torrent and the Night Before, in 1896 at his own expense; this collection was extensively revised and published in 1897 as The Children of the Night. Unable to make a living by writing, he got a job as an inspector for the New York City subway system. In 1902 he published Captain Craig and Other Poems. This work received little attention until President Theodore Roosevelt wrote a magazine article praising it and Robinson. Roosevelt also offered Robinson a sinecure in a U.S. Customs House, a job he held from 1905 to 1910. Robinson dedicated his next work, The Town Down the River (1910), to Roosevelt.

Robinson's first major success was The Man Against the Sky (1916). He also composed a trilogy based on Arthurian legends: Merlin (1917), Lancelot (1920), and Tristram (1927), which won a Pulitzer Prize in 1928. Robinson was also awarded a Pulitzer Prize for his Collected Poems (1921) in 1922 and The Man Who Died Twice (1924) in 1925. For the last twenty-five years of his life, Robinson spent his summers at the MacDowell Colony of artists and musicians in Peterborough, New Hampshire. Robinson never married and led a notoriously solitary lifestyle. He died in New York City on April 6, 1935.

A Selected Bibliography

Poetry

The Torrent and the Night Before (1896)
The Children of the Night (1897)
Captain Craig and Other Poems (1902)
The Town Down the River (1910)
Van Zorn (1914)
The Porcupine (1915)
The Man Against the Sky (1916)
Merlin (1917)
The Three Taverns (1920)
Avon's Harvest (1921)
Collected Poems (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 (1930)
Matthias at the Door (1931)
Selected Poems (1931)
Talifer (1933)
Amaranth (1934)
King Jasper (1935)
Collected Poems (1937)

Letters

Selected Letters (1940)
Untriangulated Stars: Letters to Harry de Forest Smith 1890-1905 (1947)
Edwin Arlington Robinson's Letters to Edith Brower (1968)

Poetry & Prose

Uncollected Poems and Prose (1975)

by this poet

poem
Christmas was in the air and all was well
With him, but for a few confusing flaws
In divers of God's images. Because
A friend of his would neither buy nor sell,
Was he to answer for the axe that fell?
He pondered; and the reason for it was,
Partly, a slowly freezing Santa Claus
Upon the corner, with his beard
poem
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
poem
Miniver Cheevy, child of scorn,
   Grew lean while he assailed the seasons;
He wept that he was ever born,
   And he had reasons.

Miniver loved the days of old
   When swords were bright and steeds were prancing;
The vision of a warrior bold
   Would set him dancing.

Miniver sighed for what was not,
   And