Robert Frost

Robert Frost was born on March 26, 1874, in San Francisco, California. His father was William Prescott Frost and mother was Isabella Moodie Frost, an immigrant from Scotland. His father died in San Francisco when he was ten, and his mother went East to Lawrence, Massachusetts, with her children, to live with their, grandfather. Frost went to school in Lawrence and did such good work that, at graduation, he was a high school valedictorian. In the autumn of 1892, Frost entered Dartmouth, but, finding college life unattractive, he shortly withdrew.

Frost quotes
“Poetry is when an emotion has found its thought and the thought has found words.”
Robert Frost
(1874-1963)

During the next few years, he worked in a mill for a time, took a tramping trip through the South, did some teaching, some newspaper work, and married Elinor White, who in high school had been only rival for class valedictorian. In 1897, he tried college again, this time Harvard, where he enjoyed the study of Latin, Greek, and Philosophy. At the end of two years, however, he again left college and moved to a farm near Derry, New Hampshire, which had been given to him by his grandfather. Because farming, during a period of eleven years, proved pretty unprofitable, Frost turned to teach at the nearby Pinkerton Academy (1905-1911) and then at New Hampshire State Normal (1911-1912).

Meanwhile, he had made a rather discouraging start as a poet. He had from early boyhood been an enthusiastic reader and writer of poetry. In his teens, he had begun to publish a few of his poems in magazines. His poetry, however, did not seem very attractive to most buyers; in twenty years, he earned about two hundred dollars, in all, from his verses. In 1911, he decided to sell his farm and to spend a few years on concentrated poetic work, to determine once and for all whether he could succeed in literature. Attracted by the relatively low cost of living in England, he went there, with his family, in 1912. By 1913, he managed to find a British publisher for his first book of verse, A Bay’s Will. This, as well as his second book, North of Boston (1914), was very favourably received by English readers and critics.

Frost had been the recipient of the Pulitzer Prize four times (in 1924, 1931, 1937, and 1943). He received honorary degrees from more than a score Universities, including D.Litt from both Cambridge and Oxford, and numerous other prizes, distinctions, fellowships, and special appointments. During the last forty years of his life, he led a very active public life, reading his poems to audiences, lecturing on poetry, occupying distinctive chairs in universities and in the Library of Congress. He crowned his public appearance at the inauguration of President John F. Kennedy, January 20, 1961, by appearing before the world-viewers of television reading The Gift Outright in his clear, crisp New England tones, to the largest audience ever to hear a poet.

As regards Frost’s literary output, he published Mountain Interval in 1916. This volume contains reflective lyrics, such as The Road Not Taken, love poems, such as Meeting and Passing, narrative poems, such as In the Home Stretch and Christmas Trees, and aphoristic-descriptive pieces, such as Birches. Other important pieces are: An Old Man’s Winter Night, which is a beautiful reflection of old age Bond and Free, which is an interesting love-poem, and Snow, which is a long poem.

Frost’s next collection of poems appeared in 1924 under the title New Hampshire. It brought him the first of his four Pulitzer Prizes. This volume contains besides many other poems, the long-titled poems such as A Star in a Stone-Boat. The Star Splitter, The Witch of Coos, Fragmentary Blue, In a Disused Graveyard Nothing Gold Can Stay, Stopping by on a Snowy Evening, For Once, Then, Something, Two Look at Two, Looking for a Sunset Bird in Winter, Evening in a Sugar Orchard, the Valley’s Singing Day, On a Tree Fallen Across the Road, and The Need of Being Versed in Country Things. The range of this volume is wide enough, the manner assured, and the subject-matter subtle and deeply felt. We don’t have glibness or slickness in it. It has the most valuable and lasting quality of a major, poet—the acknowledged awareness of power. Like the Romantics, Frost here is willing to admit the strange, the frightening, the supernatural, the foreboding. We find his exultant energy, delight, and skill displayed herein. Frost, as Fitzgerald, R. Jarrel, and Yvor Winters unanimously agree, goes deeply and darkly into his overriding, obsessive themes “of isolation, of extinction, and of the final limitation of man.” This volume earned for Frost an immense reputation as a poet and he was hailed in literary circles as the authentic spokesman of his native land.

Towards the close of his life, Robert Frost published In the Clearing (1962). This proves to be his swan song. In these poems, Frost’s view of life gets a complete expression. His love of contradictions is not a complacent way of trying to impose order where there is no obvious order; it is rather an acknowledgment of wholeness – an admission that pain, evil, and guilt are as real as pleasure, goodness, and beauty. The panorama of life is total, not fragmentary, in Frost poetry.

On Jan 29, 1963, Frost paid his debt to nature, and with him ended the traditional modern poetry in English and American literature.

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