edwin arlington robinson biography



                      EA Robinson (1869-1935) an American poet, was influenced by the Puritan tradition and the transcendental romanticism of his environment in New England. The youngest child of his parents' mid-years, Robinson had two older brothers whom he saw moving from success to failure, lawlessness and death through drink and addiction. He saw his own family ruined at the hands of the whims of fortune or fate. His experience of the world led him to doubt the completeness and efficiency of a lone individual placed in an unsympathetic environment. Many of his poems depict the psychological depths of a person who lives with dignity in the presence of failure as the world understands failure. The titles of his first two volumes of poems, The Torrent and the Night Before (1896) and The Children of the Night (1897) (from which 'Richard Cory' is taken) are suggestive of the sense of darkness prevalent in his poetry. As a reaction to the comment that his poems were too dark Robinson said, 'The world is not a prison-house but a kind of spiritual kindergarten where millions of bewildered infants are trying to spell "god" with the wrong blocks'.

                  Richard Cory' is a psychological pen-portrait of an individual who seems to have all the earthly qualities to make him the most fortunate, the happiest man in the world. But in the end 'Richard Cory' leaves us with a sense of shock and the bitter realisation of the unhappy, incomplete and insufficient, lonely individual. The poem depicts the universal aspects of an individual's conflict primarily with himself and then with the set views about success and happiness in society. It also exposes the hollowness of the concept of success in the 'American Dream'.

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