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Edwin Arlington Robinson Biography

(1869–1935), The Man against the Sky, Merlin, Lancelot, The Three Taverns, The Man who Died Twice

Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern FictionEncyclopedia of Literature: John Rhode to Jack [Morris] Rosenthal Biography

American poet, born in Maine, educated at Harvard. During his early life Robinson struggled to attain recognition as a poet, finally achieving it with The Man against the Sky (1916), which began his most prolific and successful period. During the years that followed he produced numerous volumes of verse including Merlin (1917), Lancelot (1920), The Three Taverns (1920), The Man who Died Twice (1924), Dionysus in Doubt (1925), and Tristram (1927). This period saw a development in his work from short dramatic and reflective poems to longer narrative works written in blank verse and demonstrating a greater psychological complexity. Robinson's early verse is characterized by a quasi-Wordsworthian attempt to write poetry about everyday subjects in ordinary language and usually attempting to tell the story of humdrum existences. This and an alleged reputation for pessimism denied him the recognition he deserved until a change in the social and cultural climate after the First World War and a movement towards greater sophistication in his verse found him a more appreciative audience. Though difficult, his poetry of this period is devoid of hermetic Modernist symbolism. Robinson's later years saw a decline in both the quality of his work and in his reputation. His other volumes of verse include The Children of the Night (1897), Captain Craig (1902), The Town Down the River (1910), The Glory of the Nightingales (1930), and Collected Poems (1937). He also published the prose plays Van Zorn (1914) and The Porcupine (1915).

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