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In the Life of Robert Frost

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“Don't ever take a fence down until you know why it was put up.” What a great quote by Robert Lee Frost, and there remain a boundless number more. However, Robert Frost not only inspired people with his many quotes but even more so with the vast amount of poems and plays he wrote throughout his life. Born in San Francisco on March 26th, 1874, his father, journalist William Prescott Frost, Jr., and mother, Isabelle Moodie, named him in honor of the famous Civil War general, Robert E. Lee. Sadly, at an early age of eleven, his father died in 1885, leaving the family devastated with only eight dollars to spare. Fifteen years later, Frost's mother would die of cancer in 1900. He loved his mother and his grief penetrated deeply, but he left no record of his response to her death.


Following the death of his father, the family moved across the planes of America to Lawrence, Massachusetts, and he graduated from high school seven years later. In high school, he grew fond of reading and writing poetry, and he published his first poem in the school magazine. Following high school, he attended college but after only two months at Dartmouth, he returned home. Later in his life, however, he would attend Harvard to become a teacher but would never graduate. Back at home, he spent his time drudgingly working as a light bulb filament changer and delivering newspapers, although he truly hated doing so and never considered them as a future profession. So he began to strive at becoming a poet. Robert Frost sold his first poem, “My Butterfly,” for fifteen dollars to the New York newspaper, The Independent, which published it November 8th, 1994.


Frost married his high school sweetheart, Elinor Miriam White. The Frost couple had six children: Elliot, Carol, Lesley, Irma, Marjorie, and Elinor Bettina, providing much inspiration for his writings. A deep wound and emptiness in Frost’s heart was especially felt after his son Elliot died on July 8th, 1900. Frost’s relationship with Elinor deteriorated after Elliott’s death. Embittered and withdrawn, she became increasingly critical of her husband, and seemed to turn against him. Luxuriating in her grief, alternating between glowering silence and wounding accusations of selfishness and neglect, she opposed him with her stillness and sharp retorts, and neither cared nor understood how he felt. Frost never, except in “Home Burial” (1914), wrote directly about these personal tragedies in his poetry. He once said, “Something in me refuses to take the risk, angrily refuses to take the risk, of seeming to use grief for literary purposes.” By the end of his life he had given perhaps a thousand readings of his poetry, but considered “Home Burial” too sad to read aloud.


While living in England, many contemporary British poets inspired Frost. Some of these included, Edward Thomas, Rupert Brooke, and Robert Graves. Robert Frost returned to the United States in 1915 having published two collections, A Boys Will, and North of Boston. For many years to come, Frost taught and lived in Massachusetts and Vermont. “Though his work is principally associated with the life and landscape of New England, and though he was a poet of traditional verse forms and metrics who remained steadfastly aloof from the poetic movements and fashions of his time, Frost is anything but a merely regional or minor poet.”


Death and grief crushed Robert Frost’s heart early on and throughout his life. He also suffered from depression, which ran in his family. Despite growing frail at eighty-six years old, Robert Frost performed a reading of his poetry at the inauguration of President John F. Kennedy. Two years later, on January 29, 1963, after complications during prostate surgery, Robert Frost passed away and rests at the Old Bennington Cemetery in Bennington, Vermont. About a year after Frost’s death, President John F. Kennedy said, “The death of Robert Frost leaves a vacancy in the American spirit…. His death impoverishes us all; but he has bequeathed his Nation a body of imperishable verse from which Americans will forever gain joy and understanding.” The life, the works, and the influences of Frost made him a great American poet. The struggles and influences of his life brought him many accomplishments and awards. Frost published around one hundred and five poems, which brought him fame throughout his entire lifetime. The influences of his life remain vividly evident in many of his writings and bring his writings to life. Robert Frost was a great man, a great intellect, and a great poet.





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