Miniver Cheevy by Edwin Arlington Robinson is a dramatic lyric poem that acts as self-portrait satire as Robinson ridicules his own life and dreams of a living in a time period where his failures could be seen as triumphs. Through his character Miniver Cheevy, Robinson criticizes not only himself, but 19th and 20th century America using diction. Robinson gave himself away with the first line: “Miniver Cheevy, child of scorn.” Robinson’s parents were expecting a girl when he was born and did not name him for six months. His name was picked out of a hat by a stranger on while his family was on vacation. Needless to say, he did not feel wanted growing up. “He wept that he was ever born/ And he had his reasons”. As a lover of the past, Robinson appreciates the art and adventure of the Ancient Greek and Medieval time periods: Miniver loved the days of old
When swords were bright and steeds were prancing; The vision of a warrior bold would set him dancing.
He dreamed of Thebes and Camelot and Priam’s neighbors.
However, Robinson himself comes off more as an anti-modernist instead of a fond observer of Romantic history: he despised the militarism and materialism the age brought about: “Miniver cursed the commonplace/ And eyed a khaki suit with loathing” and sought to escape it. He, however, recognizes that he himself is crucial to the standard: “Miniver scorned the gold he sought/ But sore he was without it”.
And though he loathes his life, all he does is drink, and drink, and drink, and drink about it and accept his fate: “Miniver Cheevy thought, and thought, and thought/ And thought about it….. Miniver coughed , and called it fate/ And kept on drinking”. Edwin Arlington Robinson criticized his time period for the pragmatism and power his generation fancied. But he also realized that he couldn’t escape and didn’t succumb to these vices but grudgingly accepted their place in his life.
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