Monday, 17 December 2018

Robert Haven Shauffler (1879 - 1964) – American poet

Robert was born on 8th April 1879 in Brünn, in Bohemia, now known as as Brno, which is in the Czech Republic.  His parents were missionaries. By the time he was two years old, Robert’s family had moved back to America. His parents founded the Schauffler College of Religious and Social Work in Cleveland in 1886 for immigrants from Bohemia who were interested in social or religious work.  Robert studied music and became a cellist.

After studying at Princeton University, Robert went to Berlin for a year.  In 1906, he represented America at the Intercalated Games held in Athens, taking part in the Men’s Singles and Doubles Tennis Tournaments. He married Katharine de Normandie Wilson before the First World War but she died in 1916. In 1912, Robert published a book of his poetry entitled “Scum o' the Earth”, which was the title of one of the poems in the collection. That poem attracted attention after publication in a magazine. The poem focussed attention on the monetary divide between middle class Americans and poor immigrants.

Robert joined the Army during the First World War as a Second Lieutenant and served as an instructor. He was posted to the Western Front and awarded a Purple Heart for his actions at the Battle of Montfaucon, which took place in mid October 1918, during which he was wounded.

After the war, Robert became a university lecturer but continued to write poetry in his spare time.

In 1919, Robert married fellow poet Margaret Widdemer, who was jointly awarded the Pulitzer Award for Poetry for her collection “The Old Road to Paradise”.  Robert lectured and wrote biographies of Schubert, Robert Schumann, Brahms and Beethoven.   Robert’s marriage was not a success and the couple divorced.  Robert died on 24th November 1964.

Robert’s WW1 poetry collection was “The White Comrade and Other Poems” (Houghton Mifflin, Company, Boston and New York, 1920).