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Robert Frost - History

Robert Frost - History

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Robert Frost

1874- 1963

American Poet

American poet Robert Frost was renowned for his populist poetry that seemed to focus on simplicity and the values of self-reliance.

Though born in San Francisco on March 26, 1874, Frost's roots were in New England, where he returned for good following a three-year stay in England (1912-15). Winner of the Pulitzer Prize four times and the Congressional Gold Medal, Frost also served as a poetry consultant to the Library of Congress.

Frost's most popular poems include "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening," and "The Death of the Hired Man."

Robert Lee Frost was born in San Francisco, California, on March 26, 1874. His father, William, came from Maine and New Hampshire ancestry and had graduated from Harvard in 1872. He left New England and went to Lewistown, Pennsylvania, to teach. He married another teacher, Isabelle Moodie, a Scotswoman, and they moved to San Francisco, where the elder Frost became an editor and politician. Robert, their first child, was named for the Southern hero General Robert E. Lee (1807�).

When Frost's father died in 1884, his will requested that he be buried in New England. His wife and two children, Robert and Jeanie, went east for the funeral. Lacking funds to return to California, they settled in Salem, Massachusetts, where his grandfather had offered them a home. Eventually Mrs. Frost found a job teaching at a school.

History and description

Nathaniel G. Head built the unassuming L-shaped farmhouse with its shed and attached barn at the time of his marriage in 1884. A doorway on the porch side of the house opened into a tiny two-doored entrance hall designed to insulate the large kitchen and adjacent dining room from winter drafts. Beyond the dining room at the front of the house, a lovely country parlor featuring a large bay window overlooked the property's two small pastures on the opposite side of the graveled highway. The first floor also contained a cozy little bedroom, a sizable pantry off the kitchen, a laundry room, and a woodshed leading first to an indoor two-holed privy and finally to a sizeable stabled barn. Ample but not overly large, three bedrooms and an unfinished room over the kitchen comprised the second floor.

By 1900, a good-sized apple orchard and several peach, pear and quince trees graced the property on the north side of the house while a long hayfield, behind and slightly to the east of the barn, adjoined a hardwood grove mostly comprised of maple, beech and oak trees. Across the rolling lawn on the south side, a grove of alders obscured a small west-running brook flowing out of a nearby cranberry bog. The property also contained a large vegetable garden, patches of raspberry and blackberry bushes, the pastures on the opposite side of the road, and plenty of room behind the barn for Frost to build coops for his poultry flock.

Robert Frost and his Poems

Robert Frost was born on March 26th, 1874. One of the most celebrated poets in America, Robert Frost was an author of searching and often dark meditations on universal themes and a quintessentially 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's work was highly associated with rural life in New England. The poet often uses the New England setting to explore complicated philosophical and social themes. As a well-known and often-quoted poet, Robert Frost was highly honored during his presence on earth, receiving 4 Pulitzer Prizes.

Robert Frost's father was a former teacher who later turned newspaperman. His father was also known to be a gambler, a hard drinker, and a harsh disciplinarian. For as long as he allowed, he had a passion for politics. Robert Frost resided in California until the age of eleven. Frost moved with his mother and sister to eastern Massachusetts, after the death of his father.

Frost's mother later joined the Swedenborgian church and had the poet baptized in it. As an adult, Frost left the faith of his mother. As a city boy, Frost grew up understanding so many things in life and had his first poem published in Lawrence, Massachusetts. In 1892, he attended Dartmouth College for just less than a semester. While at Dartmouth College, Frost joined the fraternity called Theta Delta Chi. Frost went back to his hometown to work and teach at various jobs including newspaper delivery and factory assignment. Robert Frost sold his first poem titled My Butterfly in 1894 to The Independent at the rate of 15 dollars.

Frost was proud of the success the poem brought to him and went on to ask Elinor Miriam White's hands in marriage. Both Elinor and Frost had graduated co-valedictorians from their high-school and remained in contact with one another. However, Elinor Miriam White refused the notion to marry Frost, mentioning that her education was important first. Robert Frost felt another man was occupying his position in White's heart and went on an excursion to the Great Dismal Swamp in Virginia. He came back in 1895 and asked Elinor White again to marry him. The same year, both of them became happily married.

The couple taught school together until the year 1897. Robert Frost later entered Harvard University for 2 years. His records were good, but he decided to go back home because Elinor is expecting her second child. Frost's grandfather bought a farmer in Derry, New Hampshire for the young couple. Frost remained there for a space of 9 years and wrote so many of the poems that will make up his first works. While attempting to pick up the poultry farming business, the whole thing went unsuccessful. Frost was forced to settle for another at Pinkerton Academy, a secondary school.

Roberts Frost went to Glasgow with his family in 1912 and later lived in Beaconsfield. In the next year, Frost published his first book titled A Boy's Will. In England, Robert Frost made important contacts including T. E. Hulme, Edward Thomas, and Ezra Pound. The mentioned names were the first Americans to write a favorable review of Robert Frost's work. Some of the first pieces of his poet work were written while living in England. In 1915, Robert Lee returned to America and purchased a farm in Franconia, New Hampshire. That same year, Frost launched a career of writing, lecturing and teaching.

Frost became an English professor at Amherst College from 1916-1938. While a professor at Amherst College, he advised his writing students to always bring the notion of the human voices to their craft. From 1921 and the next forty-two years of his life, he had three great expectations. During summers, Frost spent time teaching at the Bread Loaf School of English of Middlebury College in Ripton, Vermont. Nevertheless, Middlebury College still owns and managed Frost's farm. Middlebury College as managed his farm as a National Historic Site located near the Bread Loaf campus. He also represented the United States of America on several official missions. On January 20th, 1961 inauguration of President John F. Kennedy, Frost recited a poem titled The Gift Outright.

Over the course of his career, he became popular for poems involving the interplay of voices such as Death of the Hired Man or dramas. To be factual and upfront here, Frost's work was highly well-known among so many people and it remained so. Among Frost's popular shorter poems are Mending Wall, Directive, Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening, The Road Not Taken, Nothing Gold Can Stay, Fire and Ice, Birches, After Apple Picking. Robert Frost won the Pulitzer Prize at 4 different times. This is an achievement unequaled by any other American poet.

Robert Frost finally died in Boston on January 29th, 1963. He was happily buried in the Old Bennington Cemetery, Vermont. Harvard's 1965 alumni archive dictates that Frost had an honorary degree in the university. He also received honorary degrees from Oxford, Bates College, and Cambridge universities. History records that Robert Frost was the first person to receive 2 honorary degrees from Dartmouth College. During his lifetime, the main library of Amherst College and as well as the Robert Frost Middle School in Fairfax, Virginia were named after him.

Since the nineteenth century, American poetry has developed in two main streams the first began with the free, pulsating, incantatory verse of Walt Whitman, while the second started with the experiment and innovation of Emily Dickinson. Frost owes a little to both traditions, though he has, on the whole, tended to work from and continue an earlier tradition and thus create a tradition of his own. Records have shown that Frost was a farmer, a poet, a rare combination. As a farmer, Frost only spent ten years in the occupation. Frost's works have been perfectly divided into 9 collections or books. There are several great poems found in the list such as Mountain Interval, North of Boston, and New Hampshire. Frost usually displays the life occurring in New England and showcased it via his poems. With the comprehensive explanation of this article, you are sure to discover Robert Frost's life and his achievement in poems. Frost is worth calling a legend after reading through the great work of his hand.

Robert Frost Biographgy

Robert Frost is a celebrated American poet. He had a great mastery of American colloquial speech and made realistic depictions of the early rural life. His great work in poetry mostly included settings from the rural life in New England in early 20th century. He used poems to examine complex philosophical and social themes. During his life, individuals honored and at many times quoted him due to his work and he also received four Pulitzer prizes.

Early Years

He was born and raised in San Francisco, California to Isabelle Moodie and journalist William Prescott. His mother was a Scottish and his father came from the lineage of Frost of Tiverton, England who had traveled all the way to New Hampshire in early 1634.

Frost's father was an editor of San Francisco evening Bulleting, but adopted this career after leaving his earlier teaching career. The newspaper later merged into San Francisco examiner. After his father's death, his family moved to Lawrence, Massachusetts. He graduated from the Lawrence High School in the year 1892.

In spite of his association with the early rural life, he grew up in the city and managed to publish his first poem while in high school in the schools magazine. After high school, he attended the Dartmouth College. After college he returned to his home town and started teaching and also did other work including newspaper delivery and manual labor some major factories. However, he never enjoyed any of the jobs as he felt his great calling as a poet.

His adult years

He managed to sell his first poem in the year 1894, My Butterfly: An Elegy which appeared in the New York Independent in November 8, 1894 edition. He earned fifteen dollars from the sale. Frost went on a pleasure trip to Great Dismal Swamp in Virginia where he married Elinor Mirriam at the Harvard University where he studies arts for a two year period.

At Harvard University he did well but he decided to leave to support his growing family. His grandfather had earlier died although he had purchased a farm in Derry, New Hampshire. Frost worked in the farm for 9 years. Meanwhile, he used the morning hours to write poems some of which turned out to be very popular. Afterwards his farming work was unsuccessful and therefore he chose to return to his earlier teaching career. He taught at Plymouth Academy between 1906 and 1911 and then at New Hampshire Normal school in Plymouth - now Plymouth State University.

In the year 1912 frost and his entire family moved to Great Britain where at first they lived in Beaconsfield near London. In the following year he had his first poetry book, A Boy's Will, published. In England he managed to make several acquaintances like Edward Thomas, Ezra pound and T.E Hulme Pound later became the first American to write a favorable review about Frosts poetry work. While in England, Frost managed to write some of the best works alongside his peers.

Frost went back to America in 1915 at the onset of the First World War. He managed to purchase a farm in Franconia, New Hampshire where he launched his career of teaching, writing and lecturing. The homestead served as his summer home until the year 1938. The homestead is maintained as 'The Frost Place', a poetry conference site and a museum and in Francisco. Frost taught English at Amherst College, Massachusetts in 1916-1920, 1923-1924 and in 1927-1938 where he particularly encouraged his students to account for human voice sounds in their writing.

From 1921 to 1963, he spent almost every summer teaching English at the Bread Loaf School of English in Middlebury College. The school recognizes him as a major influence for its development and its writing programs. Therefore, the college owns and also maintains his former homestead as a historic site near the college.

In the year 1921, University Of Michigan awarded him a fellowship teaching post and he remained there until 1927. While In University of Michigan, the university granted him a lifetime appointment as a Fellow in Letter. He later returned to Amherst in the year 1927. In 1940 he purchased a farm in South Miami, Florida which he named as Pencil Pines. This is where he spent all his winters in the years that followed.

Harvard's alumni directory of 1965 indicates that Frost acquired an honorary degree from the university. Further, he received other honorary degrees from Cambridge, Oxford universities and Bates College. Dartmouth College also awarded him two degrees and therefore he became the first individual to attain two honorary degrees from the university. Several universities which include Amherst College, Virginia and Robert Frost Middle school in Fairfax have named their libraries after him.

He spoke and performed a reading of his poetry work in the inauguration of Former American president John F Kennedy in 1961 when he was 86 years. He died in January 20 1963 following complications from a prostate surgery.

His poems are reviewed in the "Anthology of Modern American Poetry", oxford university press. You can find one of Frost's original materials in which he personally contributed in Jones Library in Amherst. The collections consist of over twelve thousands pieces which include original letters and manuscript poems, photographs, and correspondence, audio and visual files.

His accomplishment in poetry

His first two collections publications happened while he was in England. One of the first collections 'A Boy's Will' published in the year 1915 shows a sign of the many themes and techniques that Frost developed further. Most of the poems in the collection employ an archaic, Victorian fashion. In this collection, he never applies the conversational style which he highly uses in his later works. Most poetry reviewers including Ezra Pound reviewed the work positively. His second collection, 'North Boston' cemented his reputation in both America and England as a poet with significant talent.

His poem, The Road Not Taken, published in the year 1961 'Mountain Interval Collection' became one of the anthologized and popular works in the Americas literature although critics complain that people misunderstood it. The poem is taken as a celebration of individuality when its most likely interpretation is regretful work.

'New Hampshire' published in the year 1924 confirmed Frosts as one of the significant poetic voices of the 20TH century. He won a Pulitzer Prize for the collection. The collection contains his most popular poem, Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening. Frost claimed of having written the poem after working for another poem for a whole night. The poem uses imagery of a snowbound forest and a long journey to creating a metaphor of an individual struggling against nature.

The meeting itself

At the time, the meeting was almost aborted — Robert Frost was very sick, tired, and running a 101-degree fever. He told the interpreter that he was too sick to make the 20-minute drive, but Khrushchev insisted. When Khrushchev learned that Frost was sick, he sent his personal physician and then went to Frost’s room himself. A photo that Udall has shows a relaxed and confident looking Khrushchev sitting right up, with Robert Frost looking “all of his 80 years” with a “deathbed pallor”, but alert.

The talk was easy since both were good conversationalists. Khrushchev chided Frost for not taking good care of himself, especially if he was going to live to 100. Robert Frost replied that he was “half as old as his country” and that he didn’t trust physicians. He praised Khrushchev for what he’d done for the poets of Russia and then the two talked about the relationships of artists to society, and then after testing each other, the two started to talk about if Frost had “anything special in mind.”

Frost started talking about a modus vivendi (agreement) for the two countries to survive and prosper. Frost started to admire Khrushchev’s brand of leadership and told him that a “constructive rivalry” would lead to a convergence of the two systems eventually. However, Frost said that that kind of understanding between the East and the West was only possible if both leaders were high-minded.

The two of them started talking more about the arts, then, and Frost started talking about how “a great nation makes great poetry, and great poetry makes a great nation.” Khrushchev studied Frost’s face and then said: “you have the soul of a poet!”

Frost talked about establishing a “code of conduct”. where leaders agreed to steer clear of senseless wars and have more restraint. Both sides would have to agree that “petty squabbles and blackguarding propaganda” would be avoided and that great nations should admire each other instead of belittling each other.

The two of them expressed confidence for the future to meet the challenge, in Frost’s words, to have “a hundred years of grand rivalry.” After about half an hour, Khrushchev asked if he hadn’t overstayed his time, and then thanked Frost. They shook hands, and then Khrushchev asked Frost to tell JFK about their conversation. Frost gave him a book of his poems inscribed “To Premier Khrushchev, from his rival in friendship, Robert Frost.”

Robert Frost

Robert Frost was a celebrated American poet who received four Pulitzer Prices, among many other awards. Early years Robert Frost was born in San Francisco, California, on March 26, 1874, to William Prescott Frost Jr. and Isabelle Moodie. His father, a journalist and local politician, died when Robert was 11 years old. He and his mother moved to Lawrence, Massachusetts, to live with his paternal grandfather. Robert wrote his first poems while in high school, from which he graduated in 1892 as co-valedictorian with the woman he was to marry, Elinor Miriam White. In the fall of 1892, Robert entered Dartmouth College, but stayed for less than a term. He returned to Lawrence to teach, and work at various jobs, including factory hand and newspaperman. In 1894, he sold his first poem, "My Butterfly: An Elegy," to a New York magazine, The Independent. In December 1895, he and Elinor were married. Poetry as a vocation Frost continued to teach, write, and publish his poems in magazines. He attended Harvard from 1897 to 1899, but left without a degree and returned to Lawrence. Frost's grandfather purchased a farm for him in Derry, New Hampshire, where he lived and worked for the next nine years, continuing to write poems. He took a teaching position in 1906, at Pinkerton Academy. That year, two of his early poems, "The Tuft of Flowers" and "The Trial by Existence," were published. During that period, he and Elinor had six children, two of whom died in infancy. After a year of teaching at the State Normal School in Plymouth, New Hampshire, Frost sold the farm. In the fall of 1912, he sailed with his family from Boston to Glasgow, then settled in Beaconsfield, outside of London. Beaconsfield Shortly after arriving in Britain, Frost published his first collection of poems, A Boy’s Will in 1913. That book was followed by North Boston in 1914, which contains some of his best-known poems, including “Mending Wall," "The Death of the Hired Man," "Home Burial," "After Apple-Picking," and "The Wood-Pile." He won international recognition from his collections. Frost returned to the States in 1915 when England entered World War I. He purchased a farm near Franconia, New Hampshire, then launched a career of writing, teaching and lecturing. Honors From 1916 to 1938, Frost was an English professor at Amherst College. In 1916, he was made a member of the National Institute of Arts and Letters. In the same year appeared his third collection of poems, Mountain Interval, which contained such poems as "The Road Not Taken," "Birches," and "The Hill Wife." In 1924, Frost won his first of four Pulitzer Prizes for his fourth book, New Hampshire, and followed it up with West-Running Brook in 1928. In 1929, Robert and Elinor moved onto a farm they had purchased in South Shaftsbury, Vermont. In 1931, he won a second Pulitzer for Collected Poems. In 1936, A Further Range also won a Pulitzer. Personal tragedies From the 1930s to 1940, Frost endured a number of family disasters. In 1934, his youngest and best-loved child, Marjorie, died a slow death from the puerperal fever she contracted after giving birth to her first child. In 1938, his wife suddenly died of a heart attack. When he seemed to be pulling things together once more, his son, Carol, committed suicide in 1940. Following his wife's death, Frost met Kathleen Morrison and asked her to marry him. She refused, but agreed to work for him as a secretary. She maintained his lecture schedule for the remainder of his life. In 1942, Frost published A Witness Tree, which he dedicated to Kathleen. He won his fourth Pulitzer Price for it in 1943. With the exception of the publishing of a major poem, “Directive,” in his 1947 volume, Steeple Bush, his poetry after World War II was at best occasional, a relaxation from earlier intense output. In 1957, Frost returned to England to receive honorary degrees from Oxford and Cambridge universities. In 1961, he recited his poem, "The Gift Outright," at the inauguration of President John F. Kennedy.

On March 26, 1962, In the Clearing, Frost's ninth and last collection of poems, appeared on his 88th birthday. In December, Frost underwent a prostate operation, and the doctors found cancer in his prostate and bladder. He suffered a heart attack and a pulmonary embolism while recuperating, then suffered another embolism and died on January 29, 1963. His ashes are interred at the Frost family plot in Old Bennington, Vermont. In October 1963, at the dedication of the Robert Frost Library at Amherst, President Kennedy paid tribute to the poetry and to the poet.

Frost in the Poetry Sphere

Even though he was first discovered in England and extolled by the archmodernist Ezra Pound, Robert Frost’s reputation as a poet has been that of the most conservative, traditional, formal verse-maker. This may be changing: Paul Muldoon claims Frost as “the greatest American poet of the 20th century,” and the New York Times has tried to resuscitate him as a proto-experimentalist: “Frost on the Edge,” by David Orr, February 4, 2007 in the Sunday Book Review.

Robert Frost’s Tragic Personal Life Teaches Us That Life Goes On

We know Robert Frost as the famous New England poet of rural life, behind household poems like “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening”, and “Fire and Ice”.

But what few people know is that Frost’s life was marred by personal tragedy— outliving four of his children as well as having his parents die young. His father died when he was 11 of tuberculosis his mother died of cancer. In 1920, he had to commit his younger sister, Jeanie, into a mental hospital. Nine years later, she passed away.

Both Robert Frost and his mother suffered from depression, and depression would run in the family. In 1947, his daughter, Irma was committed to a mental hospital. Elinor, Robert Frost’s wife, suffered from depression as well.

Frost and his wife had six children. Their first son, Elliot died of cholera at four years old. Another son, Carol, died in 1940 after he died by suicide. Another daughter, Marjorie, died at 29 after childbirth. Another daughter, Elinor Bettina died as an infant. Only Irma and another daughter, Lesley Frost Ballatine, would outlive him.

I’ m currently watching Manchester by the Sea, starring Casey Affleck and directed by Logan Lonergan. In the movie, a man forgets to put the screen door to a fireplace one night. His house burns down, killing his children. He attempts suicide and has to flee his hometown, becomes an alcoholic getting into regular bar fights, and is given legal guardianship of his nephew in the town once his brother dies.

“I can’t beat it,” he says near the end. “I’m sorry.”

Throughout the movie, he’s subject to stares and gossip about his personal tragedy, constantly has traumatic flashbacks to his kids’ death, and realizes that he can’t continue to stay in his hometown.

I’m rewatching the movie for about the third time, and the main character reminds me of Robert Frost. I wonder how people go on despite unspeakable tragedy and loss. I wonder how they find a reason to keep on living.

My English professor in my junior and senior years of college taught me to not look at Robert Frost’s work through the lens of his personal life. He urged me to look at his poetry and let his poetry speak for itself, and I developed the ability to inductively reason and just take a work at face value, but the work that I’m focusing on now is Frost’s personal life.

What can he teach us as we suffer from depression, loss, and seemingly insurmountable grief?

H ow many of Robert Forst’s poems can be interpreted as a death-wish? “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening,” one of his most popular poems, says the following in the final stanza:

“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.”

Wanting to stay in the woods that are “lovely, dark and deep” is often interpreted by scholars as contemplation of death, and the temptation for it. Some scholars, including Jeffrey Meyers, would even consider it to contemplate suicide.

“Acquainted with the Night” is an even more direct poem about death, and can be more explicitly linked to suicide. The narrator suggests that he is someone who has experienced the various vicissitudes of life, having “walked out in rain — and back in rain” and having “outwalked the furthest city light.”

He has “looked down the saddest city lane” and then later on in the poem, hears an “interrupted cry.” At this point, it’s still pretty ambiguous what the cry is, but the fourth stanza suggests that it’s “not to call me back or say good-bye,” and then the last two lines read the following:

“Proclaimed the time was neither wrong nor right.
I have been one acquainted with the night.”

The time for what? I think it’s pretty clear that the narrator suggests the time for death, and I find “Acquainted with the Night” one of the most chilling poems I have read because of its contemplation on death and suicide.

I said I wouldn’t actually get into Robert Frost’s poetry, but it’s probably impossible to not mention poetry when you mention Robert Frost. But still, it’s important to examine his personal life and how it may have affected his poetry.

In William Pritchard’s biography of Robert Frost, he focused in a section on Frost’s life surrounding the death of his son, Carol. Carol’s last words to his father were:

“You always win an argument, don’t you?”

In the years before Carol killed himself with a shotgun, Carol’s mother died, and he had grown more anxious. He started hearing voices in his head, and his wife was undergoing an operation in the hospital. Carol had a 15-year old son, Prescott, who was upstairs when Carol shot himself.

A few days earlier, Frost had visited Carol at his farm and tried to convince him to take more validation in his farming. He tried to tell his son that he was not a failure and that he must never take his own life. Carol then frustratingly taunted his father about always winning an argument.

Robert Frost was not an easy parent to please. After all, he was the most famous poet in America. Carol tried to be a poet, too, and found that he could never live up to his father’s fame and success by any stretch. Robert Frost tried to validate Carol’s attempts as a farmer, but also in his poetry. In fact, for years before, Robert Frost constantly wrote letters to his son about how good his poems were, but told him that he had to find success on his own path and not through the connection of his father.

“But none of it was good enough for Carol,” Pritchard wrote. In a letter to a friend, Frost said that “I took the wrong way with him. I tried many ways and every single one of them was wrong. Some thing in me is still asking for the chance to try one more. That’s where the great pain is located.”

He also lamented that he always saw himself as a bard who could tell people what to do to fix them, and then realized with the death of his son that he should have parented differently. Although he pushed his son to be like him as a farmer and a poet, both of those things caused Carol much anguish. Frost reminisced that Carol loved working with horses and children and that he should have chosen those things as a career, but he didn’t.

On his 80th birthday, Robert Frost was interviewed by self-help writer, Ray Josephs. Josephs asked the question to Frost:

“In all your years and all your travels, what do you think is the most important thing you’ve learned about life?”

Frost paused for a moment, and then raised an eyebrow. And then he said this, a quote that stays with me in times of great trial when I feel depressed or anxious:

“In three words, I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life. It goes on. In all the confusions of today, with all our troubles . . . with politicians and people slinging the word fear around, all of us become discouraged . . . tempted to say this is the end, the finish. But life — it goes on. It always has. It always will. Don’t forget that.”

A shortened version of the quote simply states the first two sentences of his quote to Josephs, but life goes on. It always does, and always will until it doesn’t. I’ve held those words true as a mantra of sorts when the world feels like it’s crashing down, only to wake up the next morning and realize it didn’t.

No matter the despair of life, and the seemingly insurmountable pain of mental illness like bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, anxiety, and depression, life always goes on.

Robert Frost survived four of his six children, outlived his wife, had a son die to suicide and had to commit one of his daughters to a mental hospital. All of that that hardship is enough to break anyone, and yet Frost kept writing poetry. He kept living and being America’s most famous poet of the 20th century.

Life goes on, even when it doesn’t seem like it will. Robert Frost taught me that truth in a time when I felt like it wasn’t possible.

11 Facts About Robert Frost

Though Robert Frost has been gone for more than half a century—he died on January 29, 1963—his poems remain timeless, inspiring everyone from John F. Kennedy to George R.R. Martin. Though most people know him for "The Road Not Taken," there's more to Frost than that—and according to him, we've all been interpreting that poem wrong anyway.


Frost's father, Will, ran away from home at a young age in an attempt to join the Confederate Army. Though he was caught and returned to his parents, the elder Frost never forgot his war heroes, and eventually named his son after one of them.


First, Frost attended Dartmouth for just two months, later explaining, "I wasn't suited for that place." He got his second chance in 1897 at Harvard, but only made it two years before dropping out to support his wife and child. “They could not make a student of me here, but they gave it their best,” Frost later said. Still, he managed to get a degree anyway—Harvard bestowed honorary honors upon him in 1937.


Published by the New York Independent in 1894, when Frost was 20, Frost’s first paid piece was called “My Butterfly: An Elegy.” The payday for the poem was the equivalent of $422 today the sum was worth more than two weeks’ salary at his teaching job.


As an established poet with a following, Ezra Pound exposed Frost to a much larger audience by writing a rave review of his first poetry collection, A Boy's Will. Frost considered it his most important early review. Pound might have reviewed the book sooner had it not been for a bit of a misunderstanding—he once gave Frost a calling card with his hours listed as "At home, sometimes." Frost "didn't feel that that was a very warm invitation," and avoided visiting. When he finally stopped in, Pound was put out that he hadn't come sooner. He wrote his review of Frost's poetry the same day.


"The Road Not Taken" is often read at high school and college graduations as a reminder to forge new paths, but Frost never intended it to be taken so seriously—he wrote the poem as a private joke for his friend Edward Thomas. He and Thomas enjoyed taking walks together, and Thomas was constantly indecisive about which direction he wanted to go. When he finally did choose, he often regretted not choosing the other way.

Frost was surprised when his readers began taking the poem to heart as a metaphor for self-determination. After reading "The Road Not Taken" to some college students, he lamented to Thomas that the poem was “taken pretty seriously … despite doing my best to make it obvious by my manner that I was fooling. … Mea culpa.”


John F. Kennedy invited Frost to do a reading at his 1961 inauguration though Frost prepared a poem called "Dedication" for the ceremony, he had a hard time reading the lightly typed words in the sun's glare. In the end, that didn't matter—the poet ended up reciting a different piece, "The Gift Outright," by heart.

Frost's performance paved the way for later appearances by Maya Angelou, Miller Williams, Elizabeth Alexander, and Richard Blanco.


Frost knew tragedy. Of his six kids—daughters Elinor, Irma, Marjorie, and Lesley, and sons Carol, and Elliot—only two outlasted him. Elinor died shortly after birth, Marjorie died giving birth, Elliot succumbed to cholera, and Carol committed suicide.


Though Frost adored living the bucolic life on his 30-acre farm in Derry, New Hampshire, his neighbors weren't exactly impressed with his skills. Because Frost mostly paid the bills with poetry, he didn't have to be as regimented about farm life as his full-time farming neighbors did, so they thought he was a bit lazy.

Even if his farming skills weren't up to par with the pros, the estate itself did wonders for his writing. According to Frost, "I might say the core of all my writing was probably the five free years I had there on the farm down the road a mile or two from Derry Village toward Lawrence. The only thing we had was time and seclusion. I couldn't have figured on it in advance. I hadn't that kind of foresight. But it turned out right as a doctor's prescription."


If Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire sounds a bit like Frost's poem "Fire and Ice," well, it is: “People say I was influenced by Robert Frost’s poem, and of course I was," Martin has said. "Fire is love, fire is passion, fire is sexual ardor and all of these things. Ice is betrayal, ice is revenge, ice is … you know, that kind of cold inhumanity and all that stuff is being played out in the books.”


Frost took home the award in poetry a whopping four times. His honors were for New Hampshire: A Poem with Notes and Grace Notes (1924), Collected Poems (1931), A Further Range (1937), and A Witness Tree (1943). No other poet has yet managed to win on four occasions.


The inscription on Frost's tombstone is his own words: “I had a lover’s quarrel with the world.” It's the last line from his poem “The Lesson for Today.” Here's the whole thing:

"And were an epitaph to be my story

I'd have a short one ready for my own.

I would have written of me on my stone:

I had a lover's quarrel with the world."

Watch the video: Nothing Gold Can Stay - Robert Frost Powerful Life Poetry (June 2022).


  1. Cermak

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  2. Yedidiah

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  3. Hassun

    I agree, this great thought will come in just the right place.

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