- Slides: 33
The Poetry of Robert Frost
Robert Frost (1874 -1963) Robert Frost was the most popular American poet of the twentieth century. Most Americans recognize his name, the titles of and lines from his best-known poems, and even his face and the sound of his voice.
Robert Frost (1874 -1963) Given his immense popularity, it is a remarkable testimony to the range and depth of his achievement that he is also considered, by those qualified to judge, to be one of the greatest, if not the very greatest, of modern American poets. Frost was awarded the Pulitzer Prize four times
Early Life Robert Frost was born in San Francisco, California on March 26, 1874. His father, a journalist and local politician, died when Frost was eleven years old. His Scottish mother resumed her career as a schoolteacher to support her family.
Early Life The family lived in Lawrence, Massachusetts, with Frost's paternal grandfather. In 1892 Frost graduated from a high school and attended Dartmouth College for a few months. Over the next ten years he held a number of jobs
Marriage and Family In 1894 the New York Independent published Frost's poem "My Butterfly" and he had five poems privately printed. Frost worked as a teacher and continued to write and publish his poems in magazines. From 1897 to 1899 Frost studied at Harvard, but left without receiving a degree.
Dark Years In 1895 he married a former schoolmate, and co-valedictorian, Elinor White; they had six children. He married Elinor on December 19, and Elliott, their first child, was born on September 29, 1896. Elliott's death, from cholera, in July of 1900, was the first of many family tragedies that Frost would endure.
Dark Years Between 1899 and 1907, Elinor and Robert had five more children--another son, Carol, and four daughters, the last of whom lived for only three days. Frost's mother also died in 1900, of cancer. The following year saw the death of his grandfather, William Prescott Frost, Sr. , who left his grandson a yearly annuity of $500. 00 (a substantial amount at the time) and the use of his farm in Derry, New Hampshire, for a period of ten years, after which Robert would become its owner.
A Risky Move Despite his popular image as a farmer-poet, those ten years were the only period of Frost's life in which he worked seriously at farming, and in the last five of them he also found it financially necessary to teach school. He sold the farm in 1911 when it became his, and with the proceeds he moved his family to England in August 1912, hoping to find there the literary success that had eluded him in his own country.
Success Abroad There he published his first collection of poems, A Boy's Will(1913) followed by North of Boston (1914), which gained international reputation. Frost met numerous literary figures, including Ezra Pound, Hilda Doolittle, and William Butler Yeats (who tells Pound that A Boy's Will is "the best poetry written in America for a long time"). The collection contains some of Frost's bestknown poems: "Mending Wall, " "The Death of the Hired Man, " "Home Burial, " "After Apple-Picking, " and "The Wood-Pile. "
The New American Genius After returning to the US in 1915 with his family, Frost bought a farm near Franconia, New Hampshire. There, his wife Elinor suffered a miscarriage. 1916: Frost began teaching at Amhert College 1924 - Awarded Pulitzer Prize for New Hampshire in May. Receives Honorary Litt. D. degrees from Middlebury College and Yale University. Gives notice to Amherst of his acceptance of lifetime appointment at University of Michigan as Fellow in Letters.
The New American Genius Frost's images - woods, stars, houses, brooks, - are usually taken from everyday life. With his down-to-earth approach to his subjects, readers found it easy to follow the poet into deeper truths, without being burdened with pedantry.
Tragedy and Depression In March 1938, after a long and often difficult marriage, Elinor herself died of heart disease. In October 1940, Frost's son Carol, feeling himself a failure despite Frost's strenuous efforts to convince him otherwise, committed suicide.
Tragedy and Depression His wife died in 1938 and he lost four of his children. Two of his daughters suffered mental breakdowns, and his son Carol, a frustrated poet and farmer, committed suicide. Frost also suffered from depression and the continual self-doubt led him to cling to the desire to be awarded the Nobel Prize for literature.
A Poet Who Terrifies None of these traumatic experiences found their way directly into Frost's poetry. At a far remove from the confessional tendencies of many later American poets, he did not see his art as a form of therapy.
The Darker Side To the broad public, Frost may be a painter of charming postcard scenes and a front-porch philosopher dispensing consolation and cracker-barrel wisdom, but behind these stereotypes there is in Frost's work a tragic and (in Lionel Trilling's phrase) a terrifying poet, whose deepest note is one of inevitable human isolation.
A Venerated Poet The capstone of his public career was his appearance at John F. Kennedy's Presidential inauguration in January 1961. When the sun and the wind prevented him from reading his new poem, 'The Preface', Frost recited his old poem, 'The Gift Outright', from memory.
A Venerated Poet Over the years he received a remarkable number of literary and academic honors. Among the honors and rewards Frost received were tributes from the U. S. Senate (1950), the American Academy of Poets (1953), New York University (1956), and the Huntington Hartford Foundation (1958), the Congressional Gold Medal (1962), the Edward Mac. Dowell Medal (1962). In 1930 he was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters, Amherst College appointed him Simpson Lecturer for Life (1949), and in 1958 he was made poetry consultant for the Library of Congress.
A Venerated Poet Kennedy also sent him to the Soviet Union as a sort of cultural envoy in 1962, not long before Frost's death in a Boston hospital on January 29, 1963, eight weeks short of his eighty-ninth birthday. At the time of his death, Frost was regarded as a kind of unofficial poet laureate of the United States
Frost’s Legacy "I would have written of me on my stone: I had a lover's quarrel with the world, " Frost once said. His independent, elusive, half humorous view of the world produced such remarks as "I never take my side in a quarrel", or "I'm never serious except when I'm fooling. "
Not a Nature Poet Frost has often been referred to as a “nature” poet because so many of his poems are set in rural or pastoral surroundings Frost said that he had only written one poem without a man in it Nature, for Frost, was an arena for action
Aspects of Frost's poetry: using contraries and contradictions using common, everyday speech poems set in nature deep meanings exist beneath a simple exterior
A Modern Poet uses traditional forms and structures while exploring modern themes of alienation and isolation Frost believed that the poet's response to modern life was to revert back to traditional forms which provided a sense of order A momentary stay from confusion
Motifs in Frost's Poetry: the cycle of the seasons the alternation of night and day natural phenomenon rural images
A Poet Who Terrifies The literary critic Lionel Trilling called Frost “a poet who terrifies. ” Often in Frost’s poems, there exists a subtle undertone of fear or uneasiness – a “hinting” at something dark or dangerous
A Poet Who Terrifies This juxtaposition of the calm, often rural, peaceful surface with an underlying darkness is not uncommon in Frost’s poetry He uses these “contraries” or “opposites” often in his poetry
Structure and Form The importance of Sentence Sounds: “A sentence is a sound in itself on which other sounds called words may be strung. ” Sound of Sense using ordinary speech within formal patterns of line and stanza Uniting the regularity of iambic meter with the freedom of the speaking voice “It is possible to have sense without the sound of sense (as in much prose that is supposed to pass muster but makes very dull reading) and the sound of sense without sense (as in Alice in Wonderland which makes anything but dull reading. )” Frost’s example is voices behind a closed door.
Sound of Sense “It is the abstract vitality of our speech. It is pure sound –pure form. ” “It is against the law of nature that whole poems should be written in it. ” Mending Wall (1, 43 -45) Something there is that doesn’t love a wall… This is untraditional blank verse that eschews the metronome to unify irregular speech rhythms and the regular iambic pentameter line. Relying on voice tones to vary the “te tum” effect of the traditional iambic rhythm.
Frost Quotations “A poem begins in delight and ends in wisdom. ” “A poem begins as a lump in the throat, a sense of wrong, a homesickness, a lovesickness” and that moves to a more substantial recognition by the end – “a clarification of life” “No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader. ”
Frost Quotations “The best way out is always through. ” Frost preferred “the old-fashioned way to be new”
Frost Quotations “For my pleasure I had soon write free verse as play tennis with the net down. ” “It is more important still to choose and arrange words in a sequence so as virtually to control the intonations and pauses of the reader’s voice. ” Words exist in the mouth, not in books. ”
Sources http: //occawlonline. pearsoned. com/bo okbind/pubbooks/kennedy 2_awl/chapt er 10/objectives/deluxe-content. html