Perhaps one of the most influential modern era poets was Edwin Arlington Robinson. His works involved a wide use of irony and the characteristics of human nature. A major theme that Robinson incorporated within his poems was failure, along with the reaction that occurred within human nature as a result of experiencing this loneliness and separateness. Some say that he was someone that understood it the best: the feeling of alienation, separation from society, and the depression that followed. As a child, Robinson was a quiet and shy individual who had an early fascination with words. Compared to his brothers, he was awkward, timid, and people presumed that he would no doubt be a failure when he grew to become an adult. Perhaps from this feeling of loneliness and isolation came the major theme for his works. The sadness in human beings is helpless: they need recognition, sympathy, and compassion, and humans long for a reaching hand before they fall into a dark, bottomless abyss of despair. “human beings can live without hope, but cannot live believing that no hope ever could have existed.”
Edwin Arlington Robinson was born on December 22, 1869 outside Head Tide, Maine to his mother Mary Palmer Robinson and father Edward Robinson. He remained unnamed for the first six months after being born, during his mother’s recovery from the rough birth. Afterwards, the Robinson Family moved the nearby town of Gardiner, where he spent most of his childhood. From 1891 to 1893, Robinson attended Harvard University, and studied there until his father fell ill two years after. A series of tragic events in Robinson’s life had an influential effect on his poetry: His father’s death in the early 1980s, the panic of 1893, his brother Dean’s morphine addiction, his forced dropout of Harvard due to financial difficulties, and the death of his mother in 1896.
Some examples of his most famous works include “Richard Cory,” “The House on the Hill,” “Haunted House,” “Miniver Cheevy,” in addition to numerous others.