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Robert Frost 1874-1963. Robert Frost. Biography Frost on Poetry Reception Texts Regional Poetry. Frost on Poetry. —the ear does it . The ear is the only true writer and the only true reader.

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Robert Frost 1874-1963

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robert frost
Robert Frost
  • Biography
  • Frost on Poetry
  • Reception
  • Texts
  • Regional Poetry
frost on poetry
Frost on Poetry

—the ear does it. The ear is the only true writer and the only true reader.

Unless you are at home in the metaphor, unless you've had your proper poetical education in the metaphor, you are not safe anywhere. Because you are not at ease with figurative values: you don't know the metaphor in its strength and weakness. You don't know how far you can expect to ride it and when it may break down with you. You are not safe in science; you are not safe in history.

—“Education for Poetry”

What I like about Bergson and Fabre is that they have bothered our evolutionism so much with the cases of instinct they have brought up. You get more credit for thinking if you restate formulae or cite cases that fall in easily under formulae, but all the fun is outside saying things that suggest formulae but won't formulate--that almost but don't quite formulate. I should like to be so subtle at this game as to seem to a casual person altogether obvious. The casual person would assume that I meant nothing or else I came near enough meaning something he was familiar with to mean it for all practical purposes. Well well well.

—Letter to Louis Untermeyer


At the same time, [the book] is extraordinarily free from a young man’s extravagances; there is no insistent obtrusion of self-strain after super-things. Neither does it belong to any modern ‘school,’ nor go in harness to any new and twisted theory of art. It is so simple, lucid, and experimental that, reading a poem, one can see clearly with the poet’s own swift eye, and follow the trail of his glancing thought. One feels that this man has seen and felt; seen with a revelatory, a creative vision; felt personally and intensely; and he simply writes down, without confusion or affectation, the results thereof. Rarely today is it our fortune to fall in with a new poet expressing himself in so pure a vein.

—The Academy, 1913

The language ranges from a never vulgar colloquialism to brief moments of heightened and intense simplicity. There are moments when the plain language and lack of violence make the unaffected verses look like prose, except that the sentences, if spoken aloud, are most felicitously true in rhythm to the emotion.

—Edward Thomas, 1914

Mr. Frost is an honest writer, writing from himself, from his own knowledge and emotion; not simply picking up the manner which magazines are accepting at the moment, and applying it to topics in vogue. He is quite consciously and effortlessly putting New England rural life into verse. He is not using themes that anybody could have cribbed out of Ovid.

—Ezra Pound, 1914

randall jarrell 1953
Randall Jarrell, 1953

Besides the Frost that everybody knows there is one whom no one even talks about. Everybody knows what the regular Frost is: the one living poet who has written good poems that ordinary readers like without any trouble and understand without any trouble; the conservative editorialist and self-made apothegm-joiner, full of dry wisdom and free, complacent, Yankee enterprise; the Farmer-Poet--this is an imposing private role perfected for public use, a sort of Olympian Will Rogers out of Tanglewood Tales; and, last or first of all, Frost is the standing, speaking reproach to any orther good modern poet: 'If Frost can write poetry that's just as easy as Longfellow you can too--you do too.' It is this 'easy' side of Frost that is most attractive to academic readers, who are eager to canonize any modern poet who condemns in example the modern poetry which they condemn in precept; and it is this side that has helped get him neglected or depreciated by intellectuals--the reader of Eliot or Auden usually dismisses Frost as something inconsequentially good that he knew all about long ago.

randall jarrell 195311
Randall Jarrell, 1953

So far from being obvious, optimistic, orthodox, many of these poems are extraordinarily subtle and strange.

lionel trilling 1959
Lionel Trilling, 1959

For a long time I was alienated from Frost’s great canon of work by what I saw in it, that either itself seemed to denigrate the work of the critical intellect or that gave its admirers the ground for making the denigration.

I have to say that my Frost is not the Frost I seem to perceive existing in the minds of so many of his admirers. He is not the Frost who confounds the characteristically modern practice of poetry by his notable democratic simplicity of utterance: on the contrary. He is not the Frost who reassures us by his affirmation of old virtues, simplicities, pieties, and ways of feeling: anything but.

j donald adams 1959
J. Donald Adams, 1959

Professor Trilling confessed that he thinks of Frost as a 'terrifying' poet, and that 'the universe he conceives is a terrifying universe.' Holy mackerel! Frost simply sees the universe as it is and accepts it. He isn't terrified by what he sees, and neither should we be. He takes it in his stride, which is one reason why he is in there pitching at 85.

t m guerin 1959
T. M. Guerin, 1959

I hope Robert Frost was having a nice plate of buckwheat cakes and Vermont maple syrup as he read Mr. Adams' remarks. He couldn't have done better unless he had taken the so-called professor out to the woodshed.

emory neff 1959
Emory Neff, 1959

Frost might have had a Novel prize if so many New York critics hadn't gone whoring after European gods.

mending wall something there is that doesn t love a wall
“Mending Wall”Something there is that doesn’t love a wall
  • There is something that doesn't love a wall
  • Something doesn't love a wall
  • Something hates a wall
  • X hates a wall
  • A wall is hated by X

Rumination 1-11

The actual activity 12-27

“Spring is the mischief in me” 28-38

“I see him there” 38-45

a famous title frank lentricchia modernist quartet
A Famous TitleFrank Lentricchia, Modernist Quartet
  • “a biography of Frost”
  • “a study of U.S. race relations”
  • “at least one work of feminist scholarship”
  • “a study of U.S. social conditions”
  • “an essay that excoriates American literary theorists for not going the way of the Italian Marxist Antonio Gramsci”
  • “a proposal for alternatives to prison for nonviolent felons”
  • “a biography of an eighteenth-century Jesuit”
  • “a self-help text which occupied the New York Times best-seller list for over seven years”
  • “an analysis of a crisis in highway repairs and maintenance in Connecticut”