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Swanton Family Residence,
25 Kingsbury Street

Robinson,  Harry Morrell, Willis Atwood, two Longfellows and three Swantons had the run of the Swanton’s five-acre farm. Upstairs Aunt Dorcas Gay endured “what she could not alter.” One of the Swanton trio tried to lure Robinson into her room, but he could not be moved at any price to face her. Here Robinson held his own when the boys walked gingerly along the top rail of the fence, but he was increasingly weighed down by “premonitions of a kind /That only childhood knows.” One of the gang would “blow like a whirlwind into the Swanton yard and snatch another boy’s cap off, crying “First hat!” which was dog’s Latin for “I’ll be in the river before you are!” Win Robinson, lanky and awkward, walked a log one day with his clothes on and did not return home dry. “Robinson was there so much that Aunt Dorcas, with mock severity, raised the question of charging him rent. The happy household had its effect on his spiritual development. Mrs. Swanton was a Swedenborgian, a vigorous Mary-Martha who was bringing up her turbulent sons on a pittance, trouncing them with vigor when necessary but giving them and their friends a sense of a vital Presence.” Robinson made caramels and played seven-up with sticky cards with the Swantons. He sat for hours in their parlor, devouring Morte d’Arthur or Dombey and Son. (Hagedorn, pages 17, 25, 29, 38)

There is no known association of Swanton family with the following poem. It is chosen because of the evocative spirit of this site where the boys swam.


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Souvenir
A vanished house that for an hour I knew
By some forgotten chance when I was young
Had once a glimmering window overhung
With honeysuckle wet with evening dew.
Along the path tall dusky dahlias grew,
And shadowy hydrangeas reached and swung
Ferociously; and over me, among
The moths and mysteries, a blurred bat flew.
 
Somewhere within there were dim presences
Of days that hovered and of years gone by,
I waited, and between their silences
There was an evanescent faded noise;
And though a child, I knew it was the voice
Of one whose occupation was to die.


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

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