E.A Robinson -Página de referencia

Welcome to my web-site. I am a student from the Uversity of Deusto and this is my web-site about E.A Robinson coupled with the list of my favourite links.


  1. Chief events in Robinson´s life
  2. Robinson´s poetry tecnique
  3. Comments on some of his poems

Chief events in Robinson´s life

December 22, 1869: Birth of Edwin at Head Tide; September, 1870: Family moves to Gardiner; 1883-1884: Dr. Schumann begins teaching Edwin prosody; 1888: Meets Emma Shepherd; February 12, 1890: Marriage of Emma and Herman; March 3, 1890: Edwin's first publication “Thalia”appears in a local paper; September, 1891: Entered Harvard; July, 1892: Edwin's father, Edward, dies; June, 1893: Finished at Harvard, began taking care of house in Gardiner; November, 1896: Edwin's mother, Mary, diesPrivate publication of The Torrent and the Night BeforeEmma and Herman move into the house in Gardiner; Autumn, 1897: Break with Herman, moves to Winthrop; November, 1897: Moves to New York; December, 1897: Publication of The children of the night; 1898-1899: Moves to Cambridge and works for a while as a secretary at Harvard; September, 1899: Edwin's brother, Dean, diesMoves back to New York; November, 1901: Wealth from family estate gone, begins years of borrowing; October, 1902: Publication of Captain Craig; 1903: Sale of family house by Herman.Herman moves to Capitol Island, while Emma stays in Farmingdale; Fall, 1903-August, 1904: Employment as timekeeper in New York subway construction; July, 1905: Begins employment in New York custom house as sinecure provided by President Theodore Roosevelt; Fall, 1905: Publication of Scribner's new edition of The children of the night under pressure from Roosevelt; February, 1909: Edwin's brother, Herman, dies; March, 1909: Quits custom house job; September, 1909: To Gardiner "for an indefinite stay"Emma refuses to marry him; December, 1909: Returns to New York; October, 1910: Publication of The town down the river; 1911: First summer spent at MacDowell Colony; 1916: Publication of The man against the sky; 1917: Publication of Merlin; December, 1918: Emma again refuses to marry; 1920: Publication of LancelotPublication of The three taverns; 1921: Publication of Avon's HarvestPublication of Collected Poems (Pulitzer Prize); 1923: Publication of Roman Bartholow; 1924: Publication of The Man who died Twice (Pulitzer Prize); 1925: Last visit to Gardiner; 1927: Publication of Tristam(Pulitzer Prize)Final refusal of Emma to marry; 1929-35: Publication of a book a year, including Matthias at the Door (1931) and Amaranth (1934); April 5, 1935: Death in a New York hospital;

Robinson´s poetry technique

Although E.A Robinson´s poetry remains stylistically in the the English poetic traditon of the use of the blank verse,his subject matter differ from that of the tradition. Robinson is a "people poet," writing almost exclusively about individuals or individual relationships rather than on more common themes of the nineteenth century. He exhibits a curious mixture of irony and compassion toward his subjects--most of whom are failures--that allows him to be called a romantic existentialist. He is a true precursor to the modernist movement in poetry, publishing his first volume in 1896, a decade notable from the point of view of poetry in America only because of one other publication: the first, posthumous, volume of poems by Emily Dickinson. His very real-life,non-romantic take at writing,especially in the realm of poetry, was an anomaly in the time of Thoreaus, Whitmans, and Emersons. These writers wrote "personal" pieces that were more idealistic and theoretical than truly personal. Whereas Thoreau and Emerson wrote about their lives to edify others, as examples for others, Robinson's writings were true exercises in personal expression. His writings were trying to express things and truths that he, Edwin Arlington Robinson, had seen, ideas that he believed in, as opposed to simply being a vehicle for thinly disguised life lessons. Although Whitman set the gold standard for personal poetry, the examples in Robinson's writing were often times situations from his real life simply set to verse, not the dressed-up, highly glossed "experiences" of Whitman or the romantic daydreams common to other poets of this time. These situations, such as the references to Robinson's real-life alcoholism in “Miniver Cheever” and “Mr.Floods Party” were the

Comments on some of his poems

I am going to comment on three famous poems of Robinson,and in these poems it is clearly observed the juxtaposition of the old,highly rigid,formulated,classical style with Robinson´s very modern,personal subject matter.All his characters are presented as being very unsatisfied in life and their problems stem from the same type of dissatisfaction,that is the angst resulting from loneliness and remembrance of lost opportunities ,as I am going to illustrate with some examples. (“RICHARD CORY” Whenever Richard Cory went down town, We people on the pavement looked at him: He was a gentleman from head to crown, Clean favored, and imperially slim. And he was always quietly arrayed, And he was always human when he talked; But he still 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 grace: 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. ) The poem´s structure,as I have said before,is simple and classic.The rhyme scheme is set up in a basic abab cdcd efef ghgh pattern, with the lines divided up into four stanzas, quatrains to be exact. The feet and meter of the lines are also classic. The entire poem is written in iambic pentameter, one of the oldest meters used in English verse. This pattern of five feet of unstressed syllable - stressed syllable per line is easiest seen in the following way, with the bold, capitalized areas corresponding to the stressed syllables,and the feet divided by a "/": u / u / u / u / u / WhenEV /er RICH /ard COR /y WENT /down TOWN,/ u / u / u / u / u / We PE /ople ON /the PAVE /ment LOOKED /at HIM: / u / u / u / u / u / He WAS /a GEN /tleMAN /from SOLE /to CROWN, / u / u / u / u / u / Clean FAV /ored AND /imPER/iAL/ly SLIM./ This stress pattern continues for the rest of the work, and structures the poem in a very consistent, easy to read, lyrical manner. On the other hand, the content of the poem is as harsh and radical as the form is classical. The poem is basically an extended description of a man, a very rich, successful man, named Richard Cory. The narrator of the poem spends a full three quarters, the first three stanzas, of the poem doing nothing but praising this man. He paints this Richard Cory as the envy of all those around him, the object of everyone's attention as "we people on the pavement looked at him"(line two). He refers to Cory as a "gentleman from sole to crown"(line 3), and even uses language that sounds as if he were describing royalty when he calls Cory “Clean favored and imperially slim.”(line 4) The second and third stanzas go on in the same way. In the second stanza, the narrator describes Cory's social standing. In the narrator's eye's, Cory continues to be the perfect, polite gentleman, as he was "always human when he talked.". Cory was certainly not the picture of a snobbish or rude man. Cory was also a very popular fellow, as he "fluttered pulses" with a simple "Good-morning". Add that he "glittered when he walked.", and Cory is an impressive social figure indeed. In the third stanza, the narrator's picture of Richard Cory's perfect life is completed, as the narrator goes on to tell us about Cory's financial success and his refined nature. Cory is described as "richer than a king" and "schooled in every grace." To finish this wonderful picture of this wonderful man the narrator simply says, "we thought that he was everything / To make us wish that we were in his place." However, the poem takes a sudden, dark twist in the last stanza. Robinson does this by first revealing a little more about the narrator. In the first two lines of the fourth stanza, the narrator says: "So on we worked, and waited for the light/ And went without meat and cursed the bread . . . ." This is obviously a reference to the narrator's own poor financial and social state. For the narrator, work is a place of darkness and hardship where you simple "wait for the light." For the narrator, there is no meat to eat at dinner-time, and after so many meals without it, you begin to curse the cheap bread that you have to eat. This is a sharp contrast to the fairy-tale like glory that is the life of Richard Cory, and reminds the reader of the poem that for every Cory in the world, there is someone less fortunate looking upon him. Also, this revelation puts everything that the narrator has said about Cory into a new light. As a poor, the narrator had every excuse to be envious or jealous of Cory's luck in life. However, not one bad word about Cory passes through the narrator's lips. This speaks well about Cory's character, and makes the reader think that maybe this Richard Cory is as great a guy as he seems. If even the poor and unfortunate, the very people that have every excuse to envy him and his success, say all of these wonderful things about him, then he must be truly great. It's that very idea that makes the last past of the poem such a shock. In the last two lines of the last stanza, with a minimum of detail and no explanation Robinson simply tells how Cory "...one calm summer night,/ Went home and put a bullet through his head." With that, the poem ends, but the questions remain. Robinson does not really give us a clue as to why this successful, good-natured, popular, and rich man would do a horrible thing such as this. The questions are all left for us, but it is clear that Cory´s mind has probably to be invaded for a great angst that led him to commit suicide.So,this poem is about a Tilbury town man who lived a life of silent despair and he has a parallel in the poet´s own life,as Robinson´s brother Herman committed suicide with alcohol after a series of disasters in business. (“MINIVER CHEEVY” 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 The vision of a warrior Would set him dancing. Miniver sighed for what was not, And dreamed, and rested from his labors; He dreamed of Thebes and Camelot, And Priam's neighbors. Miniver mourned the ripe renown That made so many a name so fragrant; He mourned Romance, now on the town, And Art a vagrant. Miniver loved the Medici, Albeit he had never seen one; He would have sinned incessantly Could he have been one. Miniver cursed the commonplace And eyed a khaki suit with loathing; He missed the mediaeval gracil Of iron clothing. Miniver scorned the gold he sought, But sore annoyed was he without it; Miniver thought, and thought, and thought, And thought about it. Miniver Cheevy, born too late, Scratched his head and kept on thinking; Miniver coughed, and called it fate, And kept on drinking.) This poem is also a good example of Robinson´s fascination by the angst in his characters.In this case,Miniver is another Tilbury man,a self destructive drunker who reminds again of Herman,but also of the poet himself,because Robinson had a sense of being unappreciated and misunderstood as an artist . Miniver seems to be out of tune in the world,but he feels that it is the age and not himself the one to blame for that.The shortest lines created the ironic contrast between Miniver´s dreams and the tarnished actuality. “Miniver loved the Medici, he had never seen one; He would have sinned incessantly Could he have been one. “ I think Miniver´s preference of a more romantic and earlier era than his own,is a kind of remembrance of the past;maybe because he is trying to preservy his individuality which is very often lost in times of progress. Miniver is the archetypal frustrated romantic idealist, born in the wrong time for idealism. He is close enough to being Robinson himself.Throughout the poem the relation between what Miniver knows and what the speaker knows is subtle and effective.Tthere were personal and emotional reasons for Robinson's identification with Miniver Cheevy. Robinson was born the third son of a family which was waiting for having a daughter this time that they had made no provisions for the name of an unwanted son. For more than six months the boy remained unnamed, until strangers at a summer resort, feeling that he ought to be granted an identity beyond that of simply "the baby," put slips of paper with male first names written on them into a hat and chose someone to draw one out. The man who d ON “THE TREE IN PAMELA´S GARDEN” As I have already exposed,E.A Robinson always reflected their own life problems in his characters.He was very interested in showing us the disgrace that lies in his character´s psyche ,like the loneliness,the angst,the remembrance of better times in the past. This poem is a good example of this feature in Robinson´s poetry,because it is about a girl that suffers from the speculations about her reticence to love.She is a kind of lonely figure because she is different from the town´s people.Not in vain ,the tree represents the difference between Pamela´s knowledge of love and the town´s people´s ignorance of the true state of her heart. The dichotomy between private feelings and public speculation is reinforced in the sestet,where the neighbours “make romance of reticence”. Certainly Robinson's own reticence is well attested, and this may be the most autobiographically revealing statement in the poem.In fact, Robinson spent every summer after 1911 at the MacDowell Colony in Peterborough, New Hampshire. He must have been aware that at least occasionally he and his reticence around women were the subject of conversation among the other colonists. In "The Tree in Pamela's Garden," Robinson again trades gender to reveal that he was not a stranger to heterosexual love. We can see a sort of quiet reconciliation with the inevitable, told in a quiet tone when Pamela makes all Tilbury Town believe She sighed a little more for the North Star Than over men, and only in so far As she was in a garden was like Eve. And having deceived her neighbors, she indulges in a gentle smile at their overheard wish that she might find a substitute for romance. She has found a kind of contentment in the second best. Equating Robinson with Pamela,we have some interesting symbols in the poem.For example,the roses which Pamela raises but cannot deceive are her art suggesting that Robinson knew that his own truth lay in his poems. The roses are both figurative and autobiographically literal. Although he spent most of his adult life in New York, Robinson was not a stranger to gardening, as some of his letters to Harry de Forest Smith (written in the 1890s, while Robinson still lived at his boyhood home in Gardiner, Maine) reveal .The men who can "stay where they are" are the group from which Pamela's singular object of love could come, but they are to keep their distance, even if the true poet is among them, because Pamela has made her choice. It seems that Pamela has experienced love; although her lover is not evident to others, he lives in her memory and her heart. There is no reason to believe that because Robinson led a celibate life he also led a loveless one. This poem was first published in 1920 in the New Republic, a year after the fifty-year jubilee celebration of his birth. A number of women were attracted to Robinson because of his growing fame, but his usual response was to avoid them. Given the legend of Robinson's love for Emma Shepherd, who married his brother Herman, it is entirely possible that Robinson experienced a love to which he would remain faithful, even if it never attained a sexual aspect. In this case, the second quatrain shows that Pamela appears to the townspeople to prefer knowledge of the world, represented by the North Star, the symbol of navigation and direction, but, actually, she prefers the love that she recalls and tells to her roses.It is clear that the Tree of Knowledge image had more value for Robinson "in manipulating situations involving knowledge and ignorance" than with "philosophical implications concerning the natur

E.A Robinson in the net

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Marta, University of Deusto, May, 2003. martibergan@yahoo.es