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 Robert Frost      1874 – 1963

Biography

Frost was born in California but moved to the east coast shortly after his father died when Robert was ten.  His family moved a lot, changing schools, including, Dartmouth College for few months, working in a textile mill before going to Harvard in 1897 – after two years he left without a degree.  He had married Elinor White in 1895.  His grandfather bequeathed him a small farm in New Hampshire as long as he stayed ten years – he stayed 11.  Besides farming he taught and wrote poetry.  He sold the farm and went to live in England where he became recognised as a great writer with his first book, A Boy’s Will.  

Famous when he returned to America in 1915, he settled in Vermont, giving lectures and poetry readings.  Private correspondence reveals a family life beset by tragedy, pettiness and pride – life a survival of the fittest but he never gave way to grief in public.  Home Burial could be an acknowledgement.

While attracted to the Romantic traditions, Frost was more realistic about the power of nature and bleaker in outlook.  His poetry is fairly traditional and conservative though he did prefer the vernacular to the erudite or formal language and experimented with metrical liberties.  His poetry is grounded in reality.


        “I never dared to be radical when young
         For fear it would make me conservative when old.

General Characteristics

Subject Matter

Frost writes pastoral poetry dealing with the day to day living of ordinary people, simple folksy people on the land.  It is rural, bucolic poetry, close to nature.  Rather than academic, it is full of homespun philosophy.

Poetic Technique

Also traditional and conservative in poetic technique, he rejected modernisms, with little innovation in style and metrical variations.

Themes

           Forgive, O Lord, my little jokes on thee
           And I’ll forgive thy great big one on me.


Quotes from Frost’s Poetic theories and the creative process.

seeing                        seeing into
perception                  conception
image                         after image
sensory faculties        intellectual, emotional and psychic resolutions


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