E. A. Robinson

Comments & Themes

    • Notice that "The House on the Hill" is a very skilful villanelle. While the poem says that "there is nothing more to say", it actually continues to speak through six complex stanzas. Think about the relation between form and content in this case, taking the special characteristic of the villanelle into account. Could this have something to do with the poet's attitude toward the tradition at the time that Robinson was writing?

    • One of Robinson's great strengths as a poet is his use of irony. Talk about the significant differences between the public perception of characters such as Richard Cory, Aaron Stark, Reuben Bright and Kliff Klingenhagen and the hidden truths about their lives that the poems reveal.

    • What is John Evereldown's compulsion and why do you think he prays "to be done with it all"?

    • How would you describe the power of undivulged information in poems like "Calverly's", "The Mill" and "Haunted House"?

    • Perhaps the appeal of "Luke Havergal" resides in the mystery surrounding what "the western gate" may be. What do you think it is? Who could the speaker be? Is there a relation between the "dead words" of the leaves on the wall in the final stanza and the words of the poem itself?

    • What does "Eros Turannos" tell us about relationships between men and women and the terms of power and fear upon which so many marriages are based?

    • Try to identify all of the humorous details in poems like "Miniver Cheevey", "Another Dark Lady" and "Mr. Flood's Party". How does Robinson's use of humor keep these poems from falling into melodrama?

    • Can you find any parallels between Robinson's own life and work and the description he makes of the life and work of George Crabbe?