Robert Frost


Robert Frost was born on March 26, 1874 in San Francisco. His father was William Frost, a Harvard graduate who was on his way westward when he stopped to teach at Bucknell Academy in Pennsylvania for extra money. His mother, Isabelle Moodie began teaching math at Bucknell while William was there, and they got married and moved to San Francisco. They were constantly changing houses, and William went from job to job as a journalist. About a year after moving to San Francisco, they had Robert. They named him Robert Lee Frost, after William's childhood hero, Robert E. Lee. Frost's father died from tuberculosis at age thirty-four, in 1885. Isabelle took Robert and his sister back east to Massachusetts. Soon they moved to Salem, New Hampshire, where there was a teaching opening. Robert began to go to school and sit in on his mother?s classes. He soon learned to love language, and eventually went to Lawrence High School, where he wrote the words to the school hymn, and graduated as co-valedictorian. Frost read rabidly of Dickens, Tennyson, Longfellow, and many others. Frost was then sent to Dartmouth college by his controlling grandfather, who saw it as the proper place for him to train to become a businessman. Frost read even more in college, and learned that he loved poetry. His poetry had little success getting published, and he had to work various jobs to make a living, such as a shoemaker, a country schoolteacher, and a farmer. In 1912 Frost gave up his teaching job, sold his farm, and moved to England. He received aid from poets suck as Edward Thomas and Rupert Brooke, and published his first two volumes of poetry, A Boy's Will in 1913, and North of Boston in 1914. These works were well received not only in England, but also in America. Frost returned to America in 1915 and continued writing his poetry. He produced many volumes of poetry, among which are Mountain Interval (1916), West-Running Brook (1928), A Further Range (1936), A Masque of Reason (1945), and In the Clearing (1962). Frost received the Pulitzer Prize for poetry four times (1924, 1931, 1937, 1943) and became the first poet to read a poem at the presidential inauguration of John F. Kennedy. His poetry was based mainly on life and scenery in rural New England, and reflected many values of American society. He died on January 29, 1963 in Boston, Massachusetts. His epitaph reads: "I had a lovers quarrel with the world." Frost once said, "I guess I must be just an ordinary man" (Cox 5) and though he is, without a doubt, and extraordinary man, there is some truth in the statement. Throughout his poetry, Frost seems to make many attempts to appeal to the common working American and his feelings. He does this through the subject matter and themes as well as through the diction he uses. "An ordinary man is one whose imagination and character result from the constant impact of the irresistible force of desire against the immovable object necessity, the impact of feeling against reason, and the impact of faith against fact" (Cox 17). It is for this reason that Frosts work speaks to and for all men. Many of the poems Frost wrote deal with situations set in a simple, rural setting. The characters he creates are very realistic, and are not romanticized. This is one reason why people can relate to the poems. His characters "seem more real than their neighbors with manifest reservations" (Cox 8). One could say that the people are more three-dimensional than just imaginative words on a paper. He uses farmers and workers in his poetry, and sometimes he pokes fun at the more "sophisticated" people and how they feel. Frosts world is one that is related to a real world with its definite boundaries in time and space (Gerber 90). Frost seems to have a good understanding of the world in which his characters, ordinary people, live. He understands the necessities of the ordinary man, one who has to work hard to support himself and a family, no matter what events may take place. An example is the poem "Out, Out-", in which a young boy has his hand accidentally cut off by a chainsaw, and when he dies, the family, "since they were not the one dead, turned to their affairs."