Meet the Poets: Edwin Arlington Robinson – 1922, 1925 and 1928 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry

“And thus we all are nighing
The truth we fear to know:
Death will end our crying
For friends that come and go.”
— Edwin Arlington Robinson

Edwin Arlington Robinson (December 22, 1869 – April 6, 1935) was an American poet who won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry three times: in 1922 for his first Collected Poems, in 1925 for The Man Who Died Twice, and in 1928 for Tristram.

Much of Robinson’s poetry contemplates the problem of how the self might separate itself from a rigid society, yet remain as a tutelary spirit. In the end Robinson’s decision would seem to have been that this could best be done by eschewing the dramatic catastrophes–vengeance, martyrdom–and offering instead temperate ironies, cool understatements and a language calculated, like Wordsworth’s, to heal. This decision, as one looks back now from the present with its poetry of scrimshaw, its poetry of sociology, requires one to say that Robinson chose not to write for any particular time, for “any particular time” likes to have salt in its wounds. Equally it requires that one say that Robinson wrote for all time, for “all time” wants to be made healthy and to survive. — Radcliffe Squires from Edwin Arlington Robinson: Centenary Essays. Ed. Ellsworth Barnard. Copyright © 1969 by the University of Georgia Press.

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