November 10, 2004

Robinson and the bottle

Robinson. Hmm. Haven't heard of him before.

I am so happy to be working with a new author that I haven't been exposed to in AP English from high school. In the past few weeks, I kept wishing that Seton Hill would take those credits to fulfill the requirement of this course. However, being exposed to new writers, such as Robinson and Belasco, I am starting to realize how imperative it is to take this course, and apply a higher level of research to them, which is not covered in an AP course.

Anyway, about Robinson. He has something going on with drinking. I wonder if he was an alcoholic. Hmm. Let's see. Well, I don't see any historical connection there to alcohol in his personal experience, but the article does not go into any detail about his life or the people in it, besides their names. His supposedly suicidal brother may have been an alcoholic, and the habit may have found its way into poetry, such as in Miniver Cheevy and Mr. Flood's Party.

The manner in which alcohol is portrayed in each of these poems, however, is striking. In Miniver Cheevy, for example, the title character is soothing his pain away from his realization that his life does not have the romance of knights or the "golden era" of chivalry. So what? you ask, Lots of people drown their sorrows with the bottle. The alcohol, however is mentioned on the very last line of the poem: "Miniver coughed, and called it fate,/And kept on drinking," indicating that his entire reverie may have been the product of his drunken stupor, rather than his real thoughts about life.

Isn't it true that sometimes people say and do things while they are intoxicated that they would not usually think or do? This last revelation sort of invalidates everything that the narrator had previously said.

But this is common in Robinson. Look at "The Mill." The only thing that reader concretely knows is that the miller said, "There are no millers any more. The entire story could be made up in the miller's wife's head, as evidenced in Glorianna Locklear's research. (I will post a quote here, soon).

Also in Mr. Flood's Party, the issue of alcohol comes up again. Instead of the distant, almost afterthought of "Miniver Cheevy," this poem brings the fact to life--almost in a literal manner--as a child.

Then, as a mother lays her sleeping child
Down tenderly, fearing it may awake,
He set the jug down slowly at his feet
With trembling care, knowing that most things break;
And only when assured that on firm earth
It stood, as the uncertain lives of men
Assuredly did not, he paced away,
And with his hand extended paused again:

When considering the life of Robinson, I would not think it too farfetched, in my minimal knowledge of his life, that he could become an alcoholic, or through his works, perhaps live vicariously as an alcoholic.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at November 10, 2004 2:27 PM

It is my understanding that there people under the influence either 1)do things that they typically would -not- do sober, or that 2) "a drunk person's actions are the sober person's thoughts." I really don't know, since I've never been under the influence at all (nor do I intend to be in the near future; nor will I ever be drunk in my life). I suppose that it can be taken in either direction, really, because dispite the fact, the person's actions would not be expected by the others around them... am I making any sense? ...

Posted by: Karissa at November 10, 2004 9:39 PM
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