literature, Maine, Random

Gardiner & E.A. Robinson


GardinerGardiner is one of those small Maine towns that in different times was more prosperous, but as mills in Maine disappeared so did much of Gardiner’s prosperity.

GardinerToday visitors are drawn by its architecture 

Gardinerand the A-1 Diner with its down home menu.

GardinerWhat drew me here this day was learning that Gardiner was home to E. A. Robinson, a three time Pulitzer prize winner who just happens to be one of my favorite American poets.  While he is honored there, it is said that Robinson was not particularly happy in Gardiner.   One brother was addicted to laudanum, another married the woman who Robinson fancied and eventually became an impoverished alcoholic estranged from his wife and children.  After this brother’s death, Robinson proposed marriage to the wife he left behind, and upon being refused, the poet left Gardiner for New York where he lived until his death.

GardinerDespite his long absence from the town, his ashes are buried in Gardiner in the Robinson family plot.  The gravesite was not easy to find and had it not been for a caretaker leading me there, I’d probably still be wandering in search of it.

 GardinerExploring the paths of Robinson’s life in Gardiner, where his boyhood home still stands,  made his poetry seem more real.  As I reread my favorites, it struck me that many are dark and may reflect the musings of a lonely, perhaps unhappy man.  How could I not wonder how much of his work, at least in the early years, was influenced by the time he spent there and the characters he observed.  Take, for example, Miniver Cheevey.  Could he not have been a small town guy who as life  passed him by found his dreams in a bottle?

Miniver Cheevy

He wept that he was ever born,

And he had reasons.

Miniver loved the days of old

When swords were bright and steeds were prancing;

The vision of a warrior bold

Would set him dancing.

Miniver sighed for what was not,

And dreamed, and rested from his labors;

He dreamed of Thebes and Camelot,

And Priam’s neighbors.

Minever mourned the ripe renown

That made so many a name so fragrant;

He mourned Romance, now on the town,

And Art, a vagrant.

Minever loved the Medici,

Albeit he had never seen one;

He would have sinned incessantly

Could he have been one.

Miniver cursed the commonplace

And eyed a khaki suit with loathing;

He missed the mediæval grace

Of iron clothing.

Miniver scorned the gold he sought,

But sore annoyed was he without it;

Miniver thought, and thought, and thought,

And thought about it.

Miniver Cheevy, born too late,

Scratched his head and kept on thinking;

Miniver coughed, and called it fate,

And kept on drinking.


i so appreciate your visit and the comments you leave behind

Joining

The Places I’ve Been

14 thoughts on “Gardiner & E.A. Robinson

  1. This is so interesting! You and my husband would get along great…he loves civil war history and when traveling the south, he takes me all over to look at historical landmarks, homes and graves.

    XO,
    Jane

  2. When I saw the first pic…I said wow, that town has great architecture…and then you proceeded to show us the other great buildings….I love visiting towns for the architecture and history…and of course the beauty…I am so happy that you have shown us so many great towns of Maine…glad you found his grave site…what an interesting story!!

  3. Hi Linda, I’ve just returned from our summertime in Maine and I’m constantly amazed at all the interesting towns tucked here and there. I’ve driven past Gardiner so many times–I must stop, but you know how it is when you are trying to get to the destination! I’ve been scrolling through all your recent posts that I’ve missed and am enjoying myself tremendously. I’ll be back in Maine in a few weeks, maybe to Naples or Camden this time! Thanks for the wonderful posts. Linda

  4. I’ve never read Miniver Cheevy. Yes, there’s a definite air of discontent in that poem. Gardiner looks like such a bucolic town, but I guess an addicted brother and another one who took your love could really spoil Robinson’s view of things. You definitely had an interesting visit.

  5. With his father gone, Edwin became the man of the household. He tried farming and developed a close relationship with his brother’s wife Emma Robinson, who after her husband Herman’s death moved back to Gardiner with her children. She twice rejected marriage proposals from Edwin, after which he permanently left Gardiner. He moved to New York, where he led a precarious existence as an impoverished poet while cultivating friendships with other writers, artists, and would-be intellectuals. In 1896 he self-published his first book, The Torrent and the Night Before, paying 100 dollars for 500 copies. Robinson meant it as a surprise for his mother. Days before the copies arrived, Mary Palmer Robinson died of diphtheria .

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