Biography of Poet and Playwright Robert Frost

1739 words (7 pages) Essay in Literature

07/08/19 Literature Reference this

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Robert Lee Frost was born March 26, 1874 in San Francisco, and was one of the most productive writers in poetry and playwriting. He was highly recognized and admired for his realistic depiction of rural life and his great skill on American colloquial speech. Most of his amazing work encircles the rural life setting in New England in the early 20th century. He used his own work to examine complicated social and philosophical themes. Winner of four Pulitzer Prizes and a special guest at President John F. Kennedy’s inauguration, Mr. Frost became a widely respected man of American Letters. He died of complications from prostate surgery on January 29, 1963. Since his death, his reputation has not yet diminished, the mark of a great artist.

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Robert Frost’s father, William Prescott Frost, Jr., was a journalist with a desire of setting up a career in California, and in the 1870’s, moved to San Francisco with his wife. In 1885, because of his death from tuberculosis, Isabelle Moodie Frost was forced to take herself and her children, Robert and Jeanie, to Massachusetts, Lawrence. There, they were accepted and taken in by the children’s genealogical grandparents. While their mother was teaching at a few different schools in New Hampshire and Massachusetts, Robert and Jeanie grew up in Lawrence, and Robert graduated from high school around 1892. He became the top student in his class, and shared this honor with Elinor White, a girl he had fallen in love with.

Robert and Elinor had a common liking in poems and poetry, but because they pursued their education, Robert left to a different college called Dartmouth College, and Elinor left to St. Lawrence University. During this time, Robert persisted in working on the poetic career he had started when he was young. He got his first publication in 1894 when a literary journal printed his poem “My Butterfly: An Elegy.” Unwilling to wait with the academic routines, Frost left college after being there for only about a year. He and Elinor then got married in the 1890’s, but life was going tough for them, and so the poet tried to support them by farming and teaching school. Both of these were failures. During the next 12 or so years, they had accumulated six children, with two dying early at a young age, leaving the family with a son and three daughters. Frost started his education again, but this time at Harvard University in 1897, and then left again after just under two years of study there. From 1900 to 1909 the family raised chicken on a farm close to this place called Derry, New Hampshire, and for a a bit, Frost also taught at Pinkerton Academy in Derry. Frost became an enthusiastic wildlife expert, and endowed his poetic character of a New England rural sage. All this was happening all the while he was writing poems, but publishing companies showed little, if any interest in them.

In the 1900’s, Frost was beginning to get discouraged. Frost, being almost forty years old at this point, still hadn’t published a single book of poems and had only seen a few pop up in magazines. In 1911 the possession of the Derry farm had been given to Frost, and a very important choice was made. He had the option to sell the Derry property and use the money accumulated to make a foundational new start in London, which had publishers that were recognized to be more open to new ideas and to new talent. Subsequently, August of the year 1912 marked the time when the Frost’s family sailed the oceans to England. Frost had taken with him an assortment of poems and verses that he had written, but was not able to print. The publishers in London did of course confirm to be more open to new ideas and to creative verse, and, through his intense attempts and those of Ezra Pound, an emigrant American poet, Frost had within a year already published the book, A Boy’s Will (1913).

Without him knowing, Frost was inevitably on his way to gaining popularity and becoming famous. The sudden happening of World War One, forced the Frost family back into the United States in 1915. By that time, a Boston poet named Amy Lowell, who encountered Frost’s work while being in bookstores, had posted a review that had already showed up in The New Republic, and writers and publishers all over the Northeast were informed that a poet of astonishing capabilities stood in their midst. The publishing company of Henry Holt had introduced its publication of Frost’s second collection, North of Boston in 1914. It turned out to become one of the best-sellers, and, by the time Frost and his family had arrived in Boston, the Holt company was appending the American edition of A Boy’s Will. Soon enough, Frost found himself being surrounded by magazines looking to print his collections. It had never happened where an American poet accomplished such quick fame after such a demoralizing deferment. From this time and on, Frost’s career began to rise on an escalating course.

In 1915, Frost acquired a small farm in Franconia, New Hampshire, but his salary from both his poetry career and farming was not enough to care for his family, and so he got another job, and lectured part-time at the college Amherst and also at the University of Michigan. Any lingering hesitations that he might have had about his poetic talent was driven away by the collection Mountain Interval(1916), which carried on the high level ingrained by his first collections. His prominence was additionally improved by New Hampshire(1923), which obtained the Pulitzer Prize for poetry. The Pulitzer prize was also given to Frost’s Collected Poems (1930). In his old age, Frost accumulated honours and many awards from every quarter. He was the poetry advisor to the Library of Congress(1958–59), and in 1961, his presentation of the poem “The Gift Outright” at the inauguration of President John F. Kennedy was a noteworthy moment.

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Frost has been very successful in publishing most of the works that he has made. Over his lifetime, he has published 143 poems, and this is just all the works that he has made accessible to the world, although it is unknown how many poems he has written overall. Poems from Frost’s early written books, notably North of Boston, is extremely different compared to that of late 19th-century Romantic verse with its gentle approach of the nature. His intended reason of writing North of Boston was to express his concern of the human tragedies and fears, his reaction to the complexions of life, and his acknowledgment of his own hardships, because as said earlier, it is made clear that he has been through a substantial amount of burdens. North of Boston is described to be a “sad” book in general, since it portrays the isolated, and  intellectually troubled provincial New Englanders.

Frost saw the natural world through two different sets of eyes. Meaning he understood life both positively and negatively. He wrote his poems many times using nature to describe emotions and life in general. For example looking at “Storm Fear,” it portrays a cruel picture of a fierce blizzard that rages like a wild beast that taunts the settlers to come outside to be killed. Another example of Frost’s poems being seen as negative is his poem “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening”, it portrays a friendly surface of nature, that is dangerous with potential death, but hidden with the cloak of beauty. Looking through Robert’s frolicsome eyes however, we do see poems such as “Birches,” where a cataclysmic ice storm is interpreted as a thing of great elegance.

Although many may recall Frost as a “happy” poet, he has been through tough life situations that were extremely tragic, and poems such as “Out, Out—” marked his tragic events. This poem is about a young boy who helps out in his community happily by chopping down trees which take into account was a job for older folks. He unwittingly slashes off his hand, and as a result bleeds to death. This poem shows the tragedy of Frost in his life. Not that he chopped off his hand, but he has lost many opportunities and family members, just as the boy lost his hand.

Frost was the most widely recognized and honored American poet of the 20th century. Amy Lowell another poet thought that Frost had overstated the darkness of the New England life, but later Frost wrote more verse that made Lowell’s view seem out-of-date. Later in Frost’s writing career, his works have been considered the most compelling, and most accurate produced by any American poet in the history of America. There were some that criticised Frost for his works, for reasons such as Frost being exceedingly absorbed of the past or that he was insufficiently concerned about the present, or future of American society. These criticizers however have failed to achieve much cooperation due to Frost’s universal themes and ideas.

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