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date: 15 June 2024

Robinson, Edwin Arlingtonlocked

Robinson, Edwin Arlingtonlocked

  • Scott Donaldson

Extract

Edwin Arlington Robinson (1869–1935) was the first great modernist American poet. He grew up during a period of prettified poetry and rejected its archaisms and artificialities out of hand. For a long time, the diction of his verse was thought to be too much in the common grain, too plainspoken, to be deserving of publication alongside the work of such once-eminent practitioners as Thomas Bailey Aldrich and Richard Watson Gilder. Robinson was revolutionary too in his concentration on ordinary people as subjects for poetry. He was forced to pay for publication of his first book, The Torrent and the Night Before (1896). “There is very little tinkling water, and there is not a red-bellied robin in the whole collection,” he wrote a friend. Instead there were incisive short glimpses, some in restrictive sonnet form, of the people he observed around him—among them the elderly clerks at a dry goods store.

Subjects

  • North American Literatures

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