Introduction Biography Selected Works History of Gardiner Location Map Bibliography

Mrs. William Morrell’s School,
83 Dresden Avenue

“When Robinson was five or six, he trekked about an eighth of a mile down Danforth Street where it turns onto Dresden to attend Mrs. William Morrell’s private school. Known there as “Pinny,” Robinson made friends with Mrs. Morrell’s son, Harry. There he also befriended Willis Atwood, two Longfellows, and three Swantons. When Robinson was eleven, his father sent him to the grammar school farther down Dresden Avenue, saying that public school would be good for him. However at the new school, an energetic teacher annoyed by his dreaminess, boxed him on the ear, causing a life-long affliction that even surgery during his college years did not alleviate.” (Hagedorn, pages 16 and 20)

Mary Osgood (Ring) Morrell, Robinson’s kindergarten teacher, was born in Industry, Maine, May 20, 1837 and died in Gardiner, Maine, October 3, 1919. She was a daughter of Joseph and Susan (Goodridge) Ring. She married William Morrell, born Gardiner, Maine January 11, 1836 and died there 7 June 1920, a son of Arch and Statira (Andrews) Morrell, whose family is given extensive notice in Kingsbury and Deyo’s History of Kennebec County (1892), page 658. He started life as a brickmaker but later learned the printer’s trade that eventually transformed him into the local eccentric “Uncle Billy” who retailed much gossip for the local newspapers. Their only child, Harry Mellen Morrell (1869–1881), was an early playmate of Robinson, whose death at twelve was not only a shock to his parents and community, but a source of trauma to the budding poet. When Mary Morrell died, The Gardiner Journal, Oct. 9, 1919, page 5, column 3, honored her memory with these words: “With her passing on goes one of the wisest and most favorably known women of the community. Not only for her many years she has lived here, but because of her educational connection with large numbers of our people when they were younger and the marked success she had with such matters and with them.”

There is no known association of Mrs. Morrell with the poem “New England.” It is selected because it gives the reader an impression of the freezing mornings that young Robinson must have suffered when walking around the block to attend school.

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New England
Here where the wind is always north-north-east
And children learn to walk on frozen toes,
Wonder begets an envy of all those
Who boil elsewhere with such a lyric yeast
Of love that you will hear them at a feast
Where demons would appeal for some repose,
Still clamoring where the chalice overflows
And crying wildest who have drunk the least.
Passion is here a soilure of the wits,
We’re told, and Love a cross for them to bear;
Joy shivers in the corner where she knits
And Conscience always has the rocking-chair,
Cheerful as when she tortured into fits
The first cat that ever was killed by Care.

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A Virtual Tour of Robinson's Gardiner, Maine

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