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Edwin Arlington Robinson. Family Misfortune. Both of his parents died before he was thirty. One of his brothers was an alcoholic; the other, a drug addict. Both died at early ages. When he was six years old, he wondered why he had been born. Pessimist?.

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Edwin Arlington Robinson

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Edwin arlington robinson l.jpg

Edwin Arlington Robinson


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Family Misfortune

  • Both of his parents died before he was thirty.

  • One of his brothers was an alcoholic; the other, a drug addict. Both died at early ages.

  • When he was six years old, he wondered why he had been born.


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Pessimist?...

  • Robinson wrote poetry all his life, and many were “character studies.”

  • The subjects of his poems are people frustrated by life and who lack a sense of direction.

  • Most of his poems are written with an ironic tone and end tragically.

Above: Miniver Cheevy was one of Robinson’s most notable characters.


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…Not Really

  • Robinson was not a true pessimist

    • He felt that life has meaning despite its hardships and that there is hope beyond the “black and awful chaos of the night.”


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A Struggle That Paid Off

  • Robinson struggled for success from the get go, though he spent all his free time writing poetry.

  • At one point, he caught the attention of President Teddy Roosevelt, who gave him a cushy job so he could spend more time writing.

  • By the time he died, Robinson had won three Pulitzer Prizes and became one of America’s favorite poets.


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Richard Cory

Whenever Richard Cory went down town,The 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 walked.And he was rich—yes, richer than a king—And admirably schooled in every grace.In fine, we thought that he was everythingTo 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.


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Richard Cory: Another Version

They say that Richard Cory owns one half of this whole town,With political connections to spread his wealth around.Born into society, a banker's only child,He had everything a man could want: power, grace, and style.The papers print his picture almost everywhere he goes:Richard Cory at the opera, Richard Cory at a show.And the rumor of his parties and the orgies on his yacht!Oh, he surely must be happy with everything he's got.He freely gave to charity, he had the common touch,And they were grateful for his patronage and thanked him very much,So my mind was filled with wonder when the evening headlines read:"Richard Cory went home last night and put a bullet through his head.“

But I work in his factoryAnd I curse the life I'm livingAnd I curse my povertyAnd I wish that I could be,Oh, I wish that I could be,Oh, I wish that I could beRichard Cory.


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Richard Cory: What Lies Behind

Emma Löehen (Shepherd) Robinson (1865–1940), wife of Herman Edward Robinson.

Herman Edward Robinson (1865-1909), second of three sons of Edward and Mary Robinson.


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