Robinson, Edwin Arlington (1869-1935) by Vaughn, Matthew

Edwin Arlington Robinson was born in Head Tide, Maine in 1869, but when he was only six months old his father, Edward, a successful timber merchant and politician, moved the family to the Kennebec River town of Gardiner, which the future poet would later immortalize as and where he would spend most of the next twenty-seven years. Robinson entered Harvard in 1891 and published poetry in . The following year, however, his father died, precipitating a financial crisis that forced him to cut short his studies. Edwin’s older brother Herman tried to carry on the family business, but he did not share his father’s talents and, little by little, the family’s wealth dwindled. Both Robinson’s mother, Mary, and his brother Dean, who had become addicted to morphine, had taken seriously ill by this time. Mary would eventually succumb to in 1896 and Dean to a possible drug overdose in 1899. Although he was constantly needed as a source of strength for his family, Robinson was able to produce his first two volumes of poetry during this period. The distinctive tragic element in , , and all of Robinson’s poetry owed something to these early misfortunes. Edwin Arlington Robinson Tilbury Town The Harvard Advocate black diphtheria The Torrent and the Night Before The Children of the Night In October of 1899 Robinson moved to New York where he lived in dire poverty only occasionally alleviated by odd jobs and the support of friends. More substantial relief, as well as a long awaited career boost, came in 1905 from an unexpected source. Kermit Roosevelt, the teenage son of the twenty-sixth President, had discovered Robinson’s poetry the year before and sent a copy of to his father. In the fall of 1904, while campaigning for election, the President found time to read and reread Robinson’s work. Roosevelt had read poetry since his childhood and was well-versed in contemporary American literature, but it was most likely the naturalist in him that responded so enthusiastically to the author of poems like Anxious to meet with Robinson and determined to promote his career, the President wrote to him in March of 1905: (qtd. in 213). Roosevelt soon arranged a position for the poet at the New York customs house that paid $2000 a year and gave him ample time to write. The Children of the Night The Wilderness. My dear Mr. Robinson, I have enjoyed your poems, especially so much that I must write to tell you so. Will you permit me to ask what you are doing and how you are getting along? I wish I could see you. Sincerely yours, Theodore Roosevelt The Children of the Night Hagedorn The President also invited Robinson to Sagamore Hill to meet with the literary advisor of the Scribner firm to discuss the reissue of the under the Scribner imprint. According to Emery Neff, Roosevelt also broke the solid front of magazine resistance (142). an example of the short, character-driven poems for which Robinson is now best known, appeared in the March, 1907 issue of the magazine. Other key contributions to include in December of 1906, in September of 1909, and in May of 1910. The Children of the Night to the extent of procuring for Robinson entry into , which published twelve of his short pieces between 1906 and 1910 Scribner’s Magazine Miniver Cheevy, Scribner’s The Pilot For A Dead Lady How Annandale Went Out In 1911 Robinson was invited to a creative retreat for artists in Peterborough, New Hampshire known as the MacDowell Colony. Initially skeptical, he quickly came to see the colony as an ideal writing environment and continued to spend summers there until his death. This discovery, along with the financial security of an anonymously donated monthly stipend, led to an extremely productive period in which Robinson experimented with playwriting and composed several long Arthurian-themed poems. 1921 saw the publication of for which he was awarded the first Pulitzer Prize for poetry. A second Pulitzer followed in 1924 for and a third for in 1927. Robinson continued working regularly until his death and was in the process of the revising the galleys of his final work, , when he succumbed to cancer in 1935. Collected Poems The Man Who Died Twice Tristram King Jasper —Matthew Vaughn Selected Works by Edwin Arlington Robinson New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1905. Children of the Night . New York: Macmillan, 1921. Collected Poems . New York: Macmillan, 1924. The Man Who Died Twice . Cambrdige: Riverside Press, 1896. The Torrent and the Night Before . New York: Macmillan, 1927. Tristram Further Reading . . New York: The Macmillan Company, 1938. Hagedorn, Hermann Edwin Arlington Robinson, A Biography . . The American Men of Letters Series. New York: W. Sloane Associates, 1948. Neff, Emery Edward Edwin Arlington Robinson . . . Eds. and . New York: Oxford University Press, 1999. Peschel, Bill Edwin Arlington Robinson American National Biography John Arthur Garraty Mark C. Carnes . New York: Russell and Russell, 1967. Richards, Laura Elizabeth Howe E. A. R.

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