Robert Frost

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Portrait of Frost c.1910-1920

Robert Frost (1874–1963) was a popular 20th century American poet who lived in New England. He was a professor at Amherst College and for years he spent his summers at Middlebury College. He never graduated from college himself. Frost was honored several times during his lifetime; He received four Pulitzer Prizes.

His style emphasized the beauty of recited poetry. His most famous poem is "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening," which reads as follows.

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.
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.

In his poem "The Road Not Taken," Frost famously wrote, "I shall be telling this with a sigh, Somewhere ages and ages hence: Two roads diverged in a wood, and I - I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference."

Many remember Robert Frost's appearance at the inauguration of John F. Kennedy. (The Kennedys cultivated the intelligentsia as political supporters, and presented themselves as appreciators of the arts)[1]. In obvious discomfort on a bitterly cold day with the sun in his face, the white-haired elderly gentleman was unable to read the poem he had written for for the occasion, and instead gave a moving recitation of his poem "The Gift Outright." [2]

Self-described as "a Madisonian-Washingtonian-Jeffersonian Democrat", Frost was characterized by Peter J. Stanlis as "certainly one of the most original and unstereotyped Democrats that the Democratic party ever had... he held fast to a politics that provided the maximum personal liberty against all the claims of the modern totalitarian state."[3]

Notes and references

  1. Isserman, Maurice and Michael Kazin, America Divided: The Civil War of the 1960's, p. 61: "He cultivated intellectuals and artists; Robert Frost read a poem at Kennedy's inauguration; Pablo Casals provided cello music at a White House reception. Jacqueline Kennedy was much in evidence at such affairs, chatting with novelist Andre Malraux, pointing out the works of art she had installed in the White House in an effort to sweep away the dowdiness into which it had fallen in the Eisenhower years."
  2. "Kennedy's inauguration," Library of Congress American Memory website
  3. As quoted by Bryer, Jackson R., 1990, Modern American Authors: A Survey of Research and Criticism Since 1972, Duke University Press, ISBN 082231018X, p. 384

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