Robert Frost, one of the most celebrated American poets was born on March 26th, 1874. His poems were thought provoking, based on universal themes. A quintessentially modern poet, Frost’s works were filled with ambiguity and irony. Most of his poems had a deep connection with rural life in New England. The ‘setting’ was extensively used by the poet for exploring complicated philosophical and social themes. He was very popular, and received 4 Pulitzer Prizes as well.
Frost’s father was initially a teacher, he later on turned ‘newspaperman’. It is said that his father was a gambler, a hard drinker, and a harsh disciplinarian. Robert Frost lived in California until the age of eleven. Following the death of his father, he moved with his mother and sister to eastern Massachusetts.
Later on, Robert’s mother joined the Swedenborgian church, the world famous poet was baptized in it. However, as an adult, he left the faith of his mother. Growing up as a city boy, Frost witnessed the harsh realities of life. His first poem was published in Lawrence, Massachusetts. He attended Dartmouth college for less than a semester in 1892. While studying there, he joined the fraternity called Theta Delta Chi. Robert Frost traveled back to his hometown. He worked as a newspaper delivery boy and took up factory assignments as well. In 1894, he sold his first poem My Butterfly to The Independent at the rate of 15 dollars.
The success of the poem gave a lot of confidence to Frost. After an excursion to the Great Dismal Swamp in Virginia, he got married to Elinor White in 1895. They had graduated co-valedictorians from their high-school.
The couple went on to teach at a school together until the year 1897. Robert later on joined Harvard University for 2 years. Despite his records being good, he decided to go back home because Elinor was expecting her second child. For the young couple, Frost’s grandfather bought a farm in Derry, New Hampshire. He wrote several poems while staying there for almost 9 years. However, the poultry farming business went downhill. Frost was forced to pick up another teaching job at Pinkerton Academy (a secondary school).
Robert Frost moved to Glasgow with his family in 1912, and later on started living in Beaconsfield. The following year Frost published his first book titled A Boy’s Will. In England, he had made important contacts including T.E. Hulme, Edward Thomas, and Ezra Pound. They were the first Americans to write a favorable review of Robert Frost’s work. In 1915, Frost launched a full fledged career of writing, lecturing and teaching.
He served as the English professor at Amherst College from 1916-1938. He always advised his students to bring the notion of human voices to their craft.
- Middlebury college manages Robert’s farm as a National Historic site.
- Frost represented the USA on several official missions.
- On January 20th, 1961, he recited a poem titled ‘The Gift Outright’ in front of John F. Kennedy.
Robert Frost’s famous short poems include Mending Wall, Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening, The Road Not Taken, Fire and Ice, After Apple Picking etc. He has 4 Pulitzer Prizes, an achievement unequaled by any other American poet.
He died in Boston on January 29th, 1963. Robert was laid to rest at Old Bennington Cemetery, Vermont. During his lifetime, he received honorary degrees from Oxford, Bates, and Cambridge universities. The main library of Amherst College and the Robert Frost Middle School in Fairfax were named after him as well.
American poetry developed into two main streams ever since the 19th century. The first was initiated by Walt Whitman, while Emily Dickinson was the pioneer of the other. Frost has had his influence on both these traditions, but importantly he has had a tradition of his own! He was a rare combination of a farmer and a poet. His work is categorized into 9 collections or books. The great poems in the list comprise Mountain Interval, North of Boston, and New Hampshire. Life in New England was the central theme of most of his poems.
Robert Frost was indeed a legend!