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Barstow Family Residence,
148 Brunswick Avenue

Robinson’s early friends included the four Barstow brothers: Joseph, Nathaniel, James, and George. In 1872, their father, P. N. Barstow, bought this house on Brunswick Avenue built earlier by Samuel Soper. George became a Boston banker. Joseph, a bond salesman, after reading The Torrent and the Night Before, delighted the poet by saying that “There’s a hell of a lot of hell in it.” (Edwin Arlington Robinson to Harry De Forest Smith January 17, 1897 in Untriangulated Stars, page 272) James became a teacher at Groton School and later a tutor in New York City. Shortly after the publication of Hagedorn’s biography of Robinson, James led the charge in denouncing it. His booklet, My Tilbury Town, protested the representation of Gardiner and its citizens by Hagedorn. Nathaniel, who remained in Gardiner, was living at this house in 1938 when Alice Frost Lord interviewed him for an article in the Lewiston Journal Magazine, 16 March 1940, page 8A. This article contains photographs of the four brothers. The Barstows had one of the early telephones in Gardiner, and Robinson congregated with his friends in the Barstow telephone room to read drafts of his poetry. They also roasted onions and apples in the furnace. Lord remarked “One marvels at the odors that must have permeated the house when onions were on the furnace menu.”
There is no known association of Barstow family with the following poem. It is chosen because of the evocative spirit of their property on Brunswick Avenue.

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The Long Race
Up the old hill to the old house again
Where fifty years ago the friend was young
Who should be waiting somewhere there among
Old things that least remembered most remain,
He toiled on with a pleasure that was pain
To think how soon asunder would be flung
The curtain half a century had hung
Between the two ambitions they had slain.
They dredged an hour for words, and then were done.
“Good-bye! … You have the same old weather-vane—
Your little horse that's always on the run.”
And all the way down back to the next train,
Down the old hill to the old road again,
It seemed as if the little horse had won.

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