Robert Frost: Iceman for the Ages

Robert Frost is often known as one of the greatest American poets of all time. Although he is sometimes remembered as hateful and mean spirited, his life was filled with highs and lows. These differentiating periods are represented throughout his poetry. Frost once said that “A poem begins in delight, and ends in wisdom.” As can be seen, this quote not only reflected his poetry, but his life. Though many years of his life were troubled by misfortune, Frost always seemed to persevere. Robert Frost was a talented, thoughtful poet whose life was filled with complexity and tragedy (

Robert Lee Frost began life in San Francisco on March 26, 1874. For an unknown reason, Frost believed for years that he was actually born in 1875. When Frost’s father died in 1885 his mother decided to move closer to her wealthy parents in Massachusetts. In California, Frost had dropped out of kindergarten after one day, and upon returning to the first grade, also dropped out. This was no deterrent on Frost to attend college. He was accepted to Harvard but instead attended Dartmouth because of his financial situation. Even though Frost found the school to be anything but challenging, he would not finish his time at Dartmouth, nor earn any formal degree in a school (Bengtsson). He once said of schooling that “Education is hanging around until you’ve caught on.” Interestingly enough, Robert Frost held several postions at credible schools, including Amherst and Harvard. Also, Frost was awarded an incredible amount of honorary degrees from Berkley to Yale (Parini 59). Frosts careers also ranged from editing for Henry Holt to raising poultry on his Derry, New Hampshire farm.

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Robert Frost is undoubtedly gifted when it comes to his poetry, but not all aspects of his life were so easy. One of the most troubling areas in Frost’s life was his family. He held a long term engagement to his wife Elinor, whom he pleaded to marry. Also, his children were plagued with birth defects, terminal illness, and emotional instability. The Frosts lost four of their children at an early age, including daughter Elinor Bettina who died three days after birth. In 1938, after months of deteriorating health, Frost’s wife Elinor died of heart failure. Frost was so shaken that he collapsed and could not attend the memorial services. Later, in 1940, Frost was utterly disturbed by his son Carol’s suicide.
Robert Frost is also remembered for his constantly changing relationships with his friends and colleagues. Upon being reviewed by Englishman Ezra Pound, Frost felt very close to him. Pound gave Frost his first positive review in England and Frost was inspired to continue. Throughout the rest of his life, Frost’s view on his friendship with Pound changed. After World War II, though, Frost and other well known poets worked together to try to free Pound from his confinement for treason (Pritchard 201). Frost also felt enlightened after meeting young Edward Thomas and convincing him to publish his own work. Frost would later dedicate several works to Thomas, who died in World War I. Frost also became close to the so called “Georgian Poets,” Lascelles Abercrombie, Rupert Brooke and T.E. Helm (Bengtsson). Frost also held a lengthy, argumentative correspondence with friend Louis Untermeyer. In the puiblished accounts, Frost would joke with Untermeyer but would take to heart most any comment made in reproach (Holt, Rinehart, Winston 3).
Many of Frost’s memorable poems come from more basic sources of influence. For example, Frost wrote many poems for and about his beloved wife Elinor. Later, after Elinor’s death, he would attempt to woo his assistant Kathleen Morrison through poetry. When Elinor refused to marry him, and then again when Kathleen refused as well, Frost went on a spree of angry poetry, most of which remain unpublished ( Parini 61). In addition to passion and anger, Frost was goaded by reviews. The more favorable reviews urged Frost to continue with his gift. But, Frost was probably more affected by the cynical reviews. When Time magazine published a critical review in 1947, Frost actually felt pains in his arms and chest. Frost’s very first published poem was , in turn, influenced by category in which he was least interested in; education. This occurred after reading Prescott’s Conquest of Mexico and based “La Noche Triste” after an excerpt (Parini 54).

Frost’s most memorable poems are rooted in his surroundings. He loved to be in the countryside and the wilderness. His constant New England domain provided him with a rush of sources on which to write. Frost used a warm imagery to recreate his often woodsy sphere of influence. Also, Frost would create an allegorical world of different levels in his poems, which are root to striking debate (Pritchard 215).

Robert Frost truly was an amazing man. He used a deep intuition and knowledge of the world in his poetry. He is also on of the most awarded poets of all time. Frost has under his belt a Bollingen Prize, seventeen honorary degrees from the most credible schools in the world, and a benchmark-setting four Pulitzer Prizes. Mount Ripton in Colorado was named for Frost and a museum also bears his moniker Even in spite of his troubled family life, Frost still has a proud bloodline. From a delightful beginning, all the way through the intricacy of life, to a wisdom-filled end, Robert Frost stayed loyal to the one true love that never let him down, his poetry.


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