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About this poet

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)

Mr. Flood's Party

Edwin Arlington Robinson, 1869 - 1935
Old Eben Flood, climbing alone one night
Over the hill between the town below
And the forsaken upland hermitage
That held as much as he should ever know
On earth again of home, paused warily.
The road was his with not a native near;
And Eben, having leisure, said aloud,
For no man else in Tilbury Town to hear: 

"Well, Mr. Flood, we have the harvest moon
Again, and we may not have many more;
The bird is on the wing, the poet says,
And you and I have said it here before.
Drink to the bird." He raised up to the light
The jug that he had gone so far to fill,
And answered huskily: "Well, Mr. Flood,
Since you propose it, I believe I will." 

Alone, as if enduring to the end
A valiant armor of scarred hopes outworn,
He stood there in the middle of the road
Like Roland's ghost winding a silent horn.
Below him, in the town among the trees,
Where friends of other days had honored him,
A phantom salutation of the dead
Rang thinly till old Eben's eyes were dim. 

Then, as a mother lays her sleeping child
Down tenderly, fearing it may awake,
He set the jug down slowly at his feet
With trembling care, knowing that most things break;
And only when assured that on firm earth
It stood, as the uncertain lives of men
Assuredly did not, he paced away,
And with his hand extended paused again: 

"Well, Mr. Flood, we have not met like this
In a long time; and many a change has come
To both of us, I fear, since last it was
We had a drop together. Welcome home!"
Convivially returning with himself,
Again he raised the jug up to the light;
And with an acquiescent quaver said:
"Well, Mr. Flood, if you insist, I might. 

"Only a very little, Mr. Flood—
For auld lang syne. No more, sir; that will do."
So, for the time, apparently it did,
And Eben evidently thought so too;
For soon amid the silver loneliness
Of night he lifted up his voice and sang,
Secure, with only two moons listening,
Until the whole harmonious landscape rang— 

"For auld lang syne." The weary throat gave out,
The last word wavered; and the song being done,
He raised again the jug regretfully
And shook his head, and was again alone.
There was not much that was ahead of him,
And there was nothing in the town below—
Where strangers would have shut the many doors
That many friends had opened long ago.

This poem is in the public domain.

This poem is in the public domain.

Edwin Arlington Robinson

Edwin Arlington Robinson

Edwin Arlington Robinson was born on December 22, 1869, in Head Tide,

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
They are all gone away,
   The House is shut and still,
There is nothing more to say.

Through broken walls and gray
   The winds blow bleak and shrill:
They are all gone away.

Nor is there one to-day
   To speak them good or ill:
There is nothing more to say.

Why is it then we stray
   Around the sunken sill
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