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Dr. Alanson Tucker Schumann House,
49 Lincoln Avenue

Dr. Alanson Tucker Schumann (1846-1918), a homeopathic physician who changed his career to become a poet. He instructed young Robinson in the intricacies of French forms of poetry: villanelle, rondel, and ballade. He briefly attracted national fame as the author of a book of poetry, The Man and the Rose (1911).

One day Robinson screwed up his courage to approach Dr. Alanson Tucker Schumann, a homeopathic physician who lived on Lincoln Avenue across the ravine from the Robinson house. When he turned thirty, Schumann lost interest in his medical practice and became infatuated with poetry. Schumann had mastered intricate forms of the ballade, roudeau, villanelle, sonnet, chant royal, and triolets. “He was meticulously observant of the rules of the game, boasting that in not one of two thousand poems he had written had he ever repeated a rhyme.” Robinson asked Dr. Schumann to examine his fledgling specimens of poetry. At first the doctor was patronizing but soon he recognized that Robinson was a better poet than he. He told the boy so. The boy needed a mentor in the field of technique, the doctor desperately longed for an audience. Schumann read sonnets, ballades, and rondels by the scores. (Hagedorn, pages 34–5)

This selection of a poem is obvious because the poet himself dedicated it to his mentor, Dr. Schumann.


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Ballade of Broken Flutes
(To A. T. Schumann)
In dreams I crossed a barren land,
   A land of ruin, far away;
Around me hung on every hand
   A deathful stillness of decay;
   And silent, as in bleak dismay
That song should thus forsaken be,
   On that forgotten ground there lay
The broken flutes of Arcady.
 
The forest that was all so grand
   When pipes and tabors had their sway
Stood leafless now, a ghostly band
   Of skeletons in cold array.
   A longly surge of ancient spray
Told of an unforgetful sea,
   But iron blows had hushed for aye
The broken flutes of Arcady.
 
No more by summer breezes fanned,
   The place was desolate and gray;
But still my dream was to command
   New life into that shrunken clay.
   I tried it. And you scan to-day,
With uncommiserating glee,
   The songs of one who strove to play
The broken flutes of Arcady.
 
ENVOY

So, Rock, I join the common fray,
   To fight where Mamman may decree;
And leave to crumble as they may,
   The broken flutes of Arcady.
   


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EDWIN ARLINGTON ROBINSON
A Virtual Tour of Robinson's Gardiner, Maine

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