Robert Frost Essay, Research Paper
Among the many poets that have contributed to the shaping of American literature, Robert Frost stands as one of the most prevalent. With his descriptive lines about nature, in all its beauty and splendor, he creates scenes within a reader s mind that are hard to forget. His thriving life, and all that was a part of it, is the main genetic make-up that he used in his writings. Frost s love of nature seems to dominate all other themes found in his poetry, whether discussing its beauty or destructiveness.
Robert Frost was born in San Francisco in 1874. After his father s death in 1885, he moved to New England at the age of eleven and became interested in reading and writing poetry during his high school years in Lawrence, Massachusetts. He became enrolled at Dartmouth College in 1892, and later at Harvard, but never earned a formal degree. Frost drifted through a string of occupations after leaving school, working as a teacher, cobbler, and editor of the Lawrence Sentinel. His first professional poem, The Butterfly, was published on November 8, 1984 in the New York literary journal, The Independent.
A year later, in 1895, Frost married Elinor Miriam White, who became a major inspiration in his poetry until her death in 1938. After his two years at Harvard, Frost maintained a living by operating a farm in Derry, New Hampshire, writing poetry, and taught at Derry s Pinkerton Academy. The couple moved to England in 1912, after their New Hampshire farm failed, and it was abroad that Frost first met and was influenced by such contemporary British poets as Edward Thomas, Rupert Brooke, and Robert Graves. While in England, Frost also established a friendship with the poet Ezra Pound, who helped to promote and publish his work. By the time Frost returned to the United States in 1915, he had published two full-length collections, A Boy s Will and North of Boston, and his reputation was established. By the nineteen-twenties, he was the most celebrated poet in America, and with each new book including New Hampshire (1923), A Further Range (1936), Steeple Bush (1947), and In The Clearing (1962) his fame and honors, including four Pulitzer Prizes, increased.
Though his work is principally associated with the life and landscape of New England, and though he was a poet of traditional verse forms and metrics and remained steadfastly aloof from the poetic movements and fashions of his time, Frost is anything but a merely regional or minor poet. The author of searching and often dark meditations on universal themes, he is a modern poet in his adherence to language as it is actually spoken, in the psychological complexity of his portraits, and in the degree to which his work is infused with layers of ambiguity and irony. Robert Frost lived and taught for many years in Massachusetts and Vermont, and died on January 29, 1963, in Boston.
All of the events in Frost s life help to shape the symbolic meanings and concentration of his works. The idea of Frost owning a farm, his love of nature, and the decisions he makes in his life are inaugurated when reading his poetry. Some of his decisions are reflected in Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening , and The Road Not Taken . To describe certain feelings, Frost uses numerous amounts of images from nature. He believed that nature could be used to uncover and illustrate the underlying laws of the universe, and therefore used his love of nature to analyze and describe the reasons for his own feelings.
It was Frosts love of nature that tempted him to invest so much money into his farmland. Before he moved to Derry, he was an enthusiastic botanist, and would often take strolls through the forest and properties of farming neighbors. His neighbors were friendly and never objected to Frost s trespassing. The walks were a way for Frost to clear his mind and to escape the fast pace of everyday life. This idea of passing through someone else s property as a way to gain peace is represented in Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening :
Whose woods these are I think I know
His house is in the village though
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow. (Lines 1-4)
Frost is aware that he is passing through a neighbor s property and in fact knows whose property he is trespassing. Although it is trespassing, it is harmless, for he is only observing the snow falling and the surrounding nature.
Then, Frost mentions:
My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near (Lines 5-6)
Who is this horse? He continues:
He gives his harness bells a shake
To see if there is some mistake (Lines 9-10)
The horse represents his sub-conscience telling him this is not the time to rest. Frost needs to continue through the journey of life. By writing in first person, Frost allows the reader to feel closer to the actual experience. Therefore, Frost is the character in this poem. Although he wants to keep strolling in the woods, he cannot rest yet. He has other obligations and responsibilities to take care of, such as his family and his writing.
The woods are lovely, dark and deep
But I have promises to keep
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.
Frost has many choices in his life. He would love to stay at home and write poetry instead of having to work, but that is not possible. He repeats the last line in order to bring emphasis on the fact that he still has a long way to go before he can rest, both with his family, and with his life, meaning death. So, while he wishes he could spend his time doing what he loves most, writing poetry, he still needs to take care of his family by working and providing money for them. To express how he is feeling about which is more important to him, he writes The Road Not Taken . The Road Not Taken is a poem in which moving forward in life means choosing between different roads that do not necessarily move in opposite directions.
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Already, Frost knows he must pick a road to travel, one direction to take in his own life. While he tries to anticipate what will happen if taking one road, he wishes he could travel both. But, as we all know, he cannot travel both because the road in this poem is the journey of life, and in life you cannot turn back or change the decisions you ve made. Readers can just picture themselves coming upon two paths to choose from in the woods. The Road Not Taken is commonly read at high school graduations because it reflects the decisions people need to make in life.
He ends the poem by saying:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I -
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
While Frost does not state whether or not the difference was for better or for worse, we get the impression that he is happy with the road he chose in life. Although it is said that Frost was able to go by both roads, by taking care of his family and continuing with his poetry, the last lines seem to imply that no matter what path in life he had chosen, he was happy with its outcome and would never want to change the decision he had made.