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Honoring Edwin Arlington Robinson, the Widener Treasure Room this week has on exhibition copies of practically all of the poet's works in original first editions, together with many letters from Robinson to his publisher and to Professor Bliss Perry, his lifelong friend.
Robinson, who lived practically his entire life in his native state of Maine and was twice awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry, was one of the few Americans to adhere to the classical traditions of meter. He was never swept along in the tide of the modernists, and for that reason his work has a special interest.
Probably the rarest item in the collection is a rough draft of "Tristram" which was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1927. The poet's writing is so minute that a magnifying glass is necessary to distinguish the individual words. The earlier version has been considerably changed, and many stanzas have been completely deleted. The final draft is on view and hardly a change has been made in this. It would almost appear that Robinson wrote complete verses without alteration. This final draft is dated June 2, 1925, and has been loaned to the Library by Jules LeDoux, his New York agent and friend.
Of interest to Harvard students is one of Robinson's most beautiful short odes, entitled "Harvard 5" telling of the spirits which haunt that famous lecture room. Robinson was a student at Harvard during the years 1891-1893.
First editions of "The Man Who Died Twice," which won the Pulitzer Prize in 1925, "The Prodigal Son," "Avon's Harvest" and many other of his lesser-known works are exhibited. The poet's first work "The Torrent and The Night Before" is to be seen with a personal inscription to President Eliot by the author, in his familiar indecipherable hand.
Together with the Robinson display, the Treasure Room is exhibiting several original drawings of John James Audubon (1750-1851) who was the author of the first anthology of American birds, and for whom the Audubon Society was named.
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