Robert Frost Essay, Research Paper
Intro. To Lit
Robert Frost: A Distinguished Poet
Robert Frost is perhaps one of America’s best poets of his generation. His vivid images of nature capture the minds of readers. His poems appear to be simple, but if you look into them there is a lot of insight. Robert Frost spoke at John F. Kennedy’s inauguration. He is the only poet to have had the opportunity to speak at a presidential inauguration. Through his poetry people learn that Robert Frost is a complicated and intellectual man who has a place in many American hearts. (Richards P.10)
In order to understand where Robert Frost is coming from in his poetry it is important to learn about the experiences in his life. Robert Frost was born on March 26, 1874 in San Francisco. His father was from the northeast and his mother was a teacher. When he was ten years old his father died. After that Frost and his mother move to New England. Frost attended Dartmouth College and Harvard University, but did not get a degree from either school. Later on in his life he taught at Pinkerton Academy and he also taught at the Plymouth Normal School for one year. At this time in his life he decides to live a worry-less life and move out of New England. At the time he owns a farm but decides to sell it so he can use the money and move. (Worldbook)
During this time in his life his poetry is not published because there are not any editors that will publish his work. Some of his poems such as “October” and “My November Guest” were published in a few magazines. This gives some exposure for Frost, but not what he wants. Frost decides he needs to change his life. He is either going to move to England or Vancouver, British Columbia to see a friend. How Frost makes his decision is unusual. He decides where he is going to move by flipping a coin. Frost says “The coin chose England.” Going to England is a good choice for Frost. While he is in England he writes many poems such as, “Choose Greatly” and “Nothing but what we somehow choose.” These poems reflect greatly upon choosing what you want. Perhaps Frost does not choose to go to England but I’m sure he was glad that he goes. (Pritchard P.8)
Once Frost and his family went to England they situate themselves in Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire. This is the place near where “Milton finished Paradise Lost”. It is a very nice place where Frost could concentrate on his poetry. One of Frost’s first poems he wrote in England was called “In England.”
Alone in rain I sat today
On top of a gate beside the way,
And a bird came near with muted bill
And a watery breeze kept blowing chill
From over the hill behind me.
I could not tell what in me stirred
To hill and gate and rain and bird,
Till lifting hair and bathing brow
The watery breeze came fresher now
From over the hill to remind me.
This poem never had a chance to be published during Frost’s life. The poem is pretty self-explanatory. To me it is obvious that it is written while he is in England. The mention of rain and watery breezes give it away because England is surrounded by water. I believe that Frost knew that he could make his career work in England. The line “The watery breeze came fresher now From over the hill to remind me” makes me think that England would give him new inspiration. Everything he did in the states was behind him and now he has a clean slate. It is up to him to become the best poet that he can be. I believe that Robert Frost did become the best poet that he could. (Pritchard P.8-9)
One of Robert Frost’s best-known poems and my favorite is “The Road Not taken”. The meaning of the poem is simple. A man is walking in the woods and has to choose a path to walk down. Instead of taking the road the many others have taken, he takes the road that is not walked down much. What makes this poem so exceptional is that Frost was talking about his life. Should he live his life in an accustomed way or should he live a different life, as a poet. Frost lived his life the way he wanted, as a poet. It turned out very good for him. Frost won the Pulitzer Prize for poetry four times. Also as I mentioned before, he spoke at President Kennedy’s inauguration and the United Stated Congress voted him a citation in 1950 for his help to American thought and enlightenment and his images of American people. (Richards P.17)
Another poem that is a trademark of Frost is the poem “Mending Wall”. Frost writes this poem when he is in England. This poem is a reflection of the days when he is living on his farm in New Hampshire. This poem is about two neighbors who every year fix the stone wall that separates their property. What makes the poem somewhat ironic is that the neighbors really don’t speak to each other or for that matter even like each other very much. Yet every year the two neighbors fix the wall together.
One of the famous lines in this poem is “Good fences make good neighbors.” To me that line seems a bit derogatory. Saying “Good fences make good neighbors” is like saying that you’d rather have a fence for a neighbor than a human being. To me that is a little irritating. The quote displays that some people really don’t like many other people. Frost probably felt that his neighbor did not like him. His neighbor must have tolerated him because every year they mended the wall and I think in the process mended their friendship a little too. (Richards P.67)
Robert Frost is a poet that is known for his imagery. He has written many poems about nature. One famous one is “Stopping by woods on a snowy evening.” In this poem Frost admires the white blanket of snow that has covered the woods. It is known that Frost loved the long New England winters and this poem just proves the point even more. (Frost P. 224)
“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 the woods fill up with snow.
My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.
He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound’s the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.
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.
This poem has many questions about it that are unanswered. Frost never said what the real meaning of this poem was. He leaves it up to the reader to interpret it. Something that caught my eye is the repetition of the last two lines. It is not very clear what he is talking about. I personally think that he may be talking about death. Sleep could mean death and if you put it together “miles to go” may mean a long time. My interpretation is that he still has a long life ahead of him before he can establish the kind of peace that he feels while looking at the snowy woods. He is trying to make death look peaceful and serene.
In 1915 Robert Frost and his wife decide to move from England and go to the states. Much to their surprise Frost left a struggling poet and came home a poetic genius. He bought a house in New Hampshire and soon realizes that he is not getting the privacy he wants. Frost gets an offer to teach at Amherst College, he accepts. After teaching at Amherst for a while Frost suddenly quit the job. He felt he needed change. Frost and his family move back to New Hampshire. During these years Frost would go through tremendous tragedy. First is his sister, who he did not even get to see before she died. During this time Frost’s career was taking off. He established the Breadloaf School of English. Just when his career was going well his daughter was dying of tuberculosis. Also his other children had failed marriages. This was a very hard time for Frost. In March of 1938 when Frost and his wife were in Florida, she dropped dead of a heart attack. At this Frost was devastated. He quit his teaching job and sold the house. Then he bought an isolated house in New Hampshire.
The death and hardship was not yet over for Frost. His son was very depressed and Frost even went to see him but his son ended up committing suicide. Instead of wallowing in grief Frost decided to let his poetry reflect the tragedy he had gone through. One of these poems was “The wind and the rain”. Now Frost was getting older, but he was getting the recognition he deserved. In 1962 he was invited to Russia. A few months later on January 29, 1963 Frost died during an operation. He was eighty-eight years old. Written on his headstone was a quote he used in one of his poems. It said, “I had a lover’s quarrel with the world.”
Robert Frost is one of America’s greatest poets. He was a wonderful man who loved life and loved nature. Frost was truly a man who set out to be great and he was. So many people loved his poetry. He is a man that nobody will ever forget because he changed the face of poetry. His life was a life of chances and getting what you want. Robert Frost always did what he wanted and that is what makes one of the best poets of his generation.
1. Frost, Robert The Poetry of Robert Frost. New York, 1967
2. Pritchard, William Frost: A literary Life Reconsidered. New York, Oxford University press,1984
3. Richards, Norman People of Destiny: Robert Frost. Children’s press Chicago1958
4. Worldbook Encyclopedia. Chicago1960