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Robert Frost

(1874-1963)

from "Fields of Vision by D.Delaney”

Life

Early years Robert Frost was born in 1874 in San Francisco, California. When his father died in 1885, the family moved to Massachusetts, where he continued his education. He interrupted his studies before obtaining a college degree and held a number of teaching positions while writing his early poems, the first of which was published in 1894.

Marriage, bereavement, depression Over the next ten years Frost married, wrote mostly unpublished poems, ran a farm and continued teaching. Following the deaths of his son, his mother and his daughter, he fell into a deep depression and seriously contemplated suicide.

England and first published collections In 1912 he moved his family to England, where he made friends with a number of established poets, notably Ezra Pound. With their help, Frost had two works published: the collection of lyrics A Boy’s Will (1913) and the series of dramatic monologues North of Boston (1914).

Return to the USA When the First World War broke out the Frost family returned to the USA. The commercial success of his books on both sides of the Atlantic enabled Frost to buy a farm in New England. He dedicated the rest of his life to working on the farm, writing and teaching.

Literary awards Over the years that followed Frost received a great number of literary, academic and public honors and awards, including four Pulitzer Prizes. In 1961 he recited one of his poems at the inauguration of President John F. Kennedy, the first poet to take part in the ceremony in American history. He died in Boston in 1963.

Works

Setting Unlike many poets of his age, Frost displayed a complete disinterest in the realities of urban, industrialized society and the social or political themes that inspired his contemporaries. His work is deeply rooted in the life and scenery of rural New England.

Layers of meaning Many of Frost’s poems have several levels of meaning. They often open with the description of a natural setting, a single person is introduced and an apparently simple story is told. A more profound, at times elusive message, however, is often hidden in the metaphors and inventive imagery. Frost warned his readers not to ‘press the poem too hard’ for meaning, because, as he said, the ‘the real meaning is the most obvious meaning’.

Style Stylistically, Frost chose discipline. He disliked free verse, which he described as playing tennis ‘with the net down’. He structured his poems in traditional metrical, rhythmical and rhyming schemes, which he used with great skill and subtlety. An important innovation was his use of plain, direct, conversational language. He believed the language of common, rural folk best described the ordinary experiences that formed the subject of his work.

Reputation Robert Frost is one of the best loved poets of the twentieth century. He is admired for the blend of the traditional and the colloquial he incorporates into his work, and as a nature poet he is widely regarded as a fitting heir to Wordsworth.

External Links:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Frost  

 
 
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