What 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.
Despite 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.
Exploring 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?
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