Author (Your Name)

Katey Ford, Colby College

Date of Award


Document Type

Honors Thesis (Open Access)


Colby College. American Studies Program




Edwin Arlington Robinson always felt that writing poetry was the only career that he could pursue in his life, but also always worried whether it was a worthy pursuit in the eyes of the culture in which he was raised. In a small town like Gardiner, Maine, where the 1690s' Puritan ethic was nearly as strong centuries later in the 1890s, the concept of a career in poetry or any artistic pursuit was absurd but not nearly as absurd as being successful at it. His grounding in Gardiner's values left an indelible stamp on his life and his poetry. Like many other New England communities, Gardiner was industrializing, using all its resources to become a leader in the business world; industry and monetary wealth were success, and poetry was failure. The only change that would be made was to improve the capitalist economy through tecbnology--a perpetuation of old beliefs. In Gardiner, the river was important for the lumber industry, which contributed to the prosperous paper mills. Ice harvesting in the winter also helped the city gain world-renown. Several resident steamboat companies took the Gardiner residents to their summer homes down the Kennebec River to Capitol and Squirrel Islands in Boothbay Harbor. The little city was a miniature business utopia and, because of its apparent success, its citizens expected the younger generation to follow closely in their business-oriented footsteps.


Robinson, Edwin Arlington, 1869-1935 -- Criticism and interpretation