Edwin Arlington Robinson

Edwin Arlington Robinson is America's poet laureate of unhappiness. In patiently crafted verse of great sonority, he portrays men and women suffering from life's ordeals yet striving to understand and master their fates. American composers who have set Robinson's verses include Aaron Copland, John Duke, Frank Lewin, and Charles Naginski.

Source: Poetry Foundation

Photo: Academy of American Poets

Print This Page

Audio

Track:

    About

    A Maine poet whose numerous volumes of verse explore the repressive life of small-town America, Edwin Arlington Robinson drew inspiration for his portraits and tales from the tortured lives of his family and acquaintances. Transforming autobiography into myth, he set these stories in the fictitious Tilbury Town, the poet’s emblem of the American dream gone awry, a place where creative genius is destroyed by neglect and misunderstanding.

    Reared in Gardiner, Maine, and educated at Harvard, Robinson’s philosophical perspective came to combine the idealism of the waning Romantic Age with the dark pessimism of the dawning century. While he believed ardently in the divine spark within all man and nature, he inevitably found that spark clouded with what he called “the black and awful chaos of the night.” Given the bleak history of Robinson’s own life–poetic neglect, unrequited passion, and family problems with alcohol–his view is not surprising; what is more amazing is the stoicism with which he persevered, ultimately winning national recognition for his long Arthurian poem, Tristram, in 1928.

    Robinson claimed to have experienced his poetic vocation as an epiphany when, at age seventeen, he became “violently excited over the structure of English blank verse.” An admirer of Robert Browning’s dramatic monologues, he set about to cloak his own poetic persona in a series of masks, creating a gallery of characters who were at once thinly veiled incarnations of his relatives and townsfolk and subtle manifestations of his own psyche.

    –Thomas Hampson and Carla Maria Verdino-Süllwold, PBS I Hear America Singing

    Related Information

    Songs

    A Happy Man

    Frank Lewin

    Edwin Arlington Robinson

    Song Collection: Variations of Greek Themes

    A Mighty Runner

    Frank Lewin

    Edwin Arlington Robinson

    Song Collection: Variations of Greek Themes

    An Inscription by the Sea

    Frank Lewin

    Edwin Arlington Robinson

    Song Collection: Variations of Greek Themes

    Calvary

    John Woods Duke

    Edwin Arlington Robinson

    Song Collection: Four Poems by Edwin Arlington Robinson

    Doricha

    Frank Lewin

    Edwin Arlington Robinson

    Song Collection: Variations of Greek Themes

    Eight Songs of Translations of Latin & Greek

    Song Collection

    John Woods Duke

    Edwin Arlington Robinson

    Howard Mumford Jones

    Eutychides

    Frank Lewin

    Edwin Arlington Robinson

    Song Collection: Variations of Greek Themes

    Four Poems by Edwin Arlington Robinson

    Song Collection

    John Woods Duke

    Edwin Arlington Robinson

    Luke Havergal

    John Woods Duke

    Edwin Arlington Robinson

    Song Collection: Four Poems by Edwin Arlington Robinson

    Miniver Cheevy

    John Woods Duke

    Edwin Arlington Robinson

    Song Collection: Four Poems by Edwin Arlington Robinson

    Richard Cory

    John Woods Duke

    Edwin Arlington Robinson

    Song Collection: Four Poems by Edwin Arlington Robinson

    Richard Cory

    Charles Naginski

    Edwin Arlington Robinson

    The Dark Hills

    John Woods Duke

    Edwin Arlington Robinson

    The Dust of Timas

    Frank Lewin

    Edwin Arlington Robinson

    Song Collection: Variations of Greek Themes

    The Old Story

    Frank Lewin

    Edwin Arlington Robinson

    Song Collection: Variations of Greek Themes

    To-Morrow

    Frank Lewin

    Edwin Arlington Robinson

    Song Collection: Variations of Greek Themes

    Variations of Greek Themes

    Song Collection

    Frank Lewin

    Edwin Arlington Robinson

    Books

    The Collected Poems of Edwin Arlington Robinson

    By Edwin Arlington Robinson

    Sheet Music

    Eight Songs of Translations of Latin and Greek Poets

    Composer(s): John Duke

    Buy via Recital Publications

    Eight Songs of Translations of Latin and Greek Poets (WorldCat)

    Composer(s): John Duke

    Find at your local library

    John Duke Song Collections

    Composer(s): John Duke

    Find at your local library

    Richard Cory

    Composer(s): Charles Naginski

    Buy via Music Sales Classical

    Richard Cory & Selected Songs

    Composer(s): John Duke

    Song(s): Richard Cory
    Calvary
    Luke Havergal
    Miniver Cheevy
    Bells in the Rain
    Velvet Shoes
    Viennese Waltz
    Evening
    Just-Spring
    When I Set Out for Lyonnesse
    Yellow Hair
    Morning in Paris
    In the Fields
    The Mountains Are Dancing
    Spring Thunder
    Be Still As You Are Beautiful
    One Red Rose
    O World
    The Song of Wandering Aengus
    Brown Penny

    Voice Type: Mixed

    Buy via Carl Fischer Music

    Support us and help us grow

    Dear friends, Thank you for helping us build a comprehensive online archive of American song. Your gift is greatly appreciated.