Edwin Arlington Robinson

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Edwin Arlington Robinson

"Robinson has been the subject of more speculation…than almost any other poet of our time" (Franchere 7). Numerous events in his life are reflected through his poetry. Edwin Arlington Robinson was born on December 22, 1869 in his father's home in Head Tide, Maine beside the Sheepscot River. His family moved to the town of Gardiner, Maine, which was only a few miles away, when he was six months old. Gardiner is Tilbury Town used in his poems. He is the son of Edward and Mary Palmer Robinson. Dean and Herman were his older brothers, Dean being twelve years older, and Herman four years older. Researchers assume that he found no companionship with his brothers. However, one of his companions was an old shabby rocking chair. In that chair young Robinson would rock, read, and reflect upon the misfortune of his birth.

Dean, gifted and intelligent, was at twenty-two on his way to what all believed would be a highly successful career in medicine. Herman, handsome, outgoing, and always popular, unavoidably kept his younger brother in the shadow. The father's attention, at any rate, appears to have been devoted chiefly to Dean and Herman; it was almost as if Win (Edwin) had been an unplanned and unexpected child and, therefore, usually ignored (Franchere, 15).

It was during his high school career that he met Emma Shepherd. She was a beautiful girl from Farmingdale that attended a dancing school. Robinson fell in love with her, but it is unknown as to how much she loved him. Nevertheless, she sent him flowers on his high school graduation day. Everything changed in the summer of 1889. Robinson's suave and svelte brother, Herman, had returned from St. Louis. He became fond of Emma and sought her affection. They married in February of 1890. Robinson refused to attend the wedding because he could not bring himself to witness it. His other brother, Dean, loved Emma as well and attempted suicide on the night of the marriage.

Robinson's life was full of emotional tribulations. In 1892, Robinson's father, Edward, died after a gradual deterioration. By 1893 America was in a major depression. Edward Robinson had accumulated a considerable fortune that was critically reduced. 1896 was when Robinson's mother died of "black diphtheria." There were no morticians available, which caused the three sons to have to dig her grave and bury her.

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