For the Rising Stars Program
|My first encounter with Robert Frost’s poetry was in 4th grade when I read “Nothing Gold Can Stay”, and since then, he’s become one of my favorite poets. But who is he?
Frost was born in 1884 in San Francisco. However, after his father’s death, his mother moved the family to Massachusetts, where he would remain. Eventually, he graduated top of his class (co-valedictorian along with who would be his wife, Elinor White) and went off to Dartmouth for college, although he’d drop out after about a year. In the years following, in order to support their growing family, he taught school and farmed.
Frost went to Harvard for 2 years before leaving for Derry, where he operated a poultry farm, and continued writing poems, with little publishing success. He became discouraged, but decided to persist, until 1911 when the poultry farm fell to him. He decided to sell it and move to London, where he wished for more success.
The publishers in London did indeed give him better luck, and at the age of 40, he published his first collection of poetry. He was called back to the states soon after, as World War I was starting. While he was away a woman by the name of Amy Lowell had read and reviewed his work, gaining him some notoriety in the United States. Not long after, Frost started getting offers from magazines clamoring to publish his poetry.
From there, he bought a farm in New Hampshire in 1915, but the income wasn’t enough to support his family of 6. He taught part-time at Amherst College and the University of Michigan from 1916 up until 1938, after publishing Mountain Interval in 1916. He only continued to rise, with 4 works winning a Pulitzer Prize ( New Hampshire, Collected Poems, A Further Range, and A Witness Tree).
But who is he to the public? Some say that he’s one of the most authentic poets of all time. Some disagree, saying that he was to focused on the past and not enough on the present and future. The claims were never really refuted, and how could they be? Others still think his works are nostalgia in poetry form and the good old days of the past. I think it’s worth mentioning that most of his poems have some higher message or observance, like the poem Fire and Ice:
Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I’ve tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.
Frost is musing on the nature of world-ending forces, and while it isn’t one of his most nostalgic poems, it’s one of the most obvious examples of pondering bigger things.
To conclude, Robert Frost was a poet of great renown, and his story is one of extreme perseverance and insight on the workings of the world. From a son of a single mother to one of the most well-known poets, up there with Poe and Dickinson, he shaped our world with his pen, his words sticking in our minds and teaching us about the ways of the past, with eyes straight ahead towards the future.