GARDINER, Maine — Edwin Arlington Robinson thought he was bad at everything except writing poetry and he was probably correct.
Born at Head Tide and raised in Gardiner, he became a three-time Pulitzer Prize winner in poetry.
It was a long road.
He was the least promising of the Robinson boys. In fact, his mother went into a fit of depression when he was born because he was a boy. She didn't name him for several months. Finally, her friends put names in a hat and she drew the name Edwin. The woman who submitted the name was from Arlington, Massachusetts. He became Edwin Arlington Robinson.
When viewed a century removed, sadness which afflicted his life is almost comedic. He pursued a beautiful woman who married her brother. That handsome brother went to Harvard and squandered the family fortune before drinking himself to death.
When his mother died of highly contagious black diptheria, the minister refused to come into the house. He read the funeral from the porch, through a window, The three Robinson brothers had to load their mother's body into a casket and take it to the cemetery.
His first book, a self-published volume arrived a few days later.
E. A. R. loved to write and he took inspiration from people around him. A volume entitled "Tilbury Town" is based on Gardiner and its citizens.
One famed poem, "Richard Cory" was immortalized by Simon and Garfunkel in the 1960's. "Richard Cory" is based on Edwin's brother Henry. Henry would die of complications from alcoholism.
Robinson would move to New York and establish a wide literary circle of friends. He was a prolific letter writer and his collection of letters is often researched at Colby. There, one can see his Pulitzer Prize proclamations and a collection of his personal effects including a number of his pipes.
At the Gardiner Public Library, are other mementos including his teething cup.