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Harry De Forest Smith Residence,
Old Brunswick Road

Harry De Forest Smith was a distinguished professor of Greek at Amherst College. He and Robinson once contemplated publishing a metrical translation of Antigone. Smith saved all of Robinson’s letters and later presented them to the Houghton Library at Harvard University. With the exception of two or three letters, they constitute a publication known as Denham Sutcliffe, Untriangulated Stars: Letters of Edwin Arlington Robinson to Harry De Forest Smith 1890–1905 (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1947) After Robinson’s return to Gardiner he corresponded with Smith, then a student at Bowdoin. At this time Robinson made several visits to Smith’s parents on Iron Mine Hill. The Smith family appeared under the fictionalized name of Drew in Rosalind Richards’ A Northern Countryside (New York: Henry Hold and Company, 1916).

The following obituary was published in the Daily Hampshire Gazette [Amherst, Massachusetts] February 4, 1943, page 5: “Harry De Forest Smith, professor emeritus of Greek, died late last evening at Dickinson hospital after a short illness. He was born in Gardiner, Me., Jan. 22, 1869, son of Charles and Sarah Elizabeth (Hildreth) Smith. He received his B. A. degree from Bowdoin in 1891, his M. A. degree from Bowdoin in 1894 and another M. A. degree from Harvard in 1896. He studied at the University of Berlin, Germany, from 1896 to 1897. He received an M. A. degree from Amherst College in 1912. He married Miss Adela Hills Wood of Rockland, Me., June 19, 1894. From 1891 to 1895 he was instructor of Greek at the University of Pennsylvania, and from 1898 to 1899 he was assistant professor of Greek at the University of Pennsylvania. He came to Amherst in 1899 and was the associate professor Greek. In 1935 he was appointed director of Converse Memorial Library. When he retired in November, 1939, the Amherst College Quarterly of that month was devoted to an appreciation of his work and life. His 38 years’ work at Amherst was honored by the trustees on January 6, 1941, when the Harry De Forest Smith scholarship fund was founded. This scholarship provides $450 to a freshman who would continue the study of Greek. Prof. Smith leaves his wife and one daughter, Miss Barbara Smith, a social service worker in Worcester.”

There is a direct association of the poem “On the Night’s of a Friend’s Wedding” with Harry De Forest Smith. Emma Robinson wrote: “Contemplations on the night of Harry De Forest Smith’s wedding.”


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On the Night of a Friend's Wedding
If ever I am old, and all alone,
I shall have killed one grief, at any rate;
For then, thank God, I shall not have to wait
Much longer for the sheaves that I have sown.
The devil only knows what I have done,
But here I am, and here are six or eight
Good friends, who most ingenuously prate
About my songs to such and such a one.
 
But everything is all askew to-night,—
As if the time were come, or almost come,
For their untenanted mirage of me
To lose itself and crumble out of sight,
Like a tall ship that floats above the foam
A little while, and then breaks utterly.



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EDWIN ARLINGTON ROBINSON
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