Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Robert Peter Tristram Coffin Poet, Professor, and Rhodes Scholar

Robert Peter Tristram Coffin , son of James William Coffin and Mary Alice Coombs Coffin was born on the 18th March 1892 in the town of Brunswick, Maine, U.S.A. He grew up on his father's salt water farm on Great Island in Harpswell. He attended the little red schoolhouse in Princes Point, entered the 7th grade in Brunswick and was graduated from Brunswick High School in 1911.
He was academically gifted graduating top of his class from Bowdoin College in Maine (1915) before going on to Princeton for a year and then to Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar. He was a fairly prolific writer producing over three dozen books of poetry, novels and biographies as well as historical articles and essays. He won the Pulitzer prize for poetry with Strange Holiness in 1935. Coffin was an able teacher and lecturer working at Wells College in Aurora, New York from 1921 - 1934 and then Bowdoin from 1934 to 1955. He died on Jan 20th 1955. He married Ruth Phillips Children Margret "Peggy" Halvosa, Robert PT Coffin Jr. and Richard N Coffin
Robert Peter Tristram Coffin Collection, 1842-1989, n.d. (bulk 1910-1955).
Five Poems by Robert P. Tristram Coffin

The Secret Heart
Across the years he could recall
His father one way best of all.
In the stillest hour of night
The boy awakened to a light.
Half in dreams, he was his sire
With his great hands full of fire.
The man had struck a match to see
If his son slept peacefully.
He held his palms each side the spark
His love had kindled in the dark.
His two hands were curved apart
In the semblance of a heart.
He wore, it seemed to his small son,
A bare heart on his hidden one,
A heart that gave out such a glow
No son awake could bare to know.
It showed a look upon a face
Too tender for the day to trace.
One instant, it lit all about,
And then the secret heart went out.
But shone long enough for one
To know that hands held up the sun.

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