Robert Frost:Your IOC Guy! Warm-up:Tell Mrs. Rea why you should care about Robert Frost… or poetry in general. And yes… it’s okay to say “because understanding poetry makes me feel smart” or “because I want to earn the IB diploma so I need a high score.” Just elaborate, please.
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, and I – I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference. The woods are lovely, dark, and deep But I have promises to keep, And miles to go before I sleep, And miles to go before I sleep… Good fences make good neighbors… Robert Frost: Background
Arguably the most recognizable American poet.Two roads diverged in a yellow wood? • He is considered by those who are qualified to judge as one of the greatest American poets. How do we know? He has 4 Pulitzer Prizes! 4! I have none. Robert Frost: Accolades
“The creator, the artist, the extraordinary man, is merely the ordinary man intensified: a person whose life is sometimes lifted to a high pitch of feeling and who has the gift of making others share his excitement.” - Louis Untermeyer American poet, anthologist, critic Robert Frost: Why We Care…
Born on March 26th, 1884, in San Francisco • His father, a journalist / politician, died when Frost was 11 years old. • His Scottish mother was a schoolteacher, who resumed this career to support the family after her husband’s death. • Wrote his first poem at 15 • Published his first poem at 19, to the disappointment of his family! Robert Frost: The Early Years
At 17, Frost graduated from high school and attended Dartmouth… for a few months. School… wasn’t his “thing.” • He went back home to teach. • At the age of 22, he went to Harvard. • He loved the classics – Latin and Greek – but not enough to stay. • Frost voluntarily left Harvard to return home… to farming. Robert Frost: The Early Years
Frost married his high school co-valedictorian (awwww), a woman named Elinor Miriam White • She was one of the few to support his poetry and his love of farming They leave us so to the way we took, As two in whom they were proved mistaken, That we sit sometimes in the wayside nook, With mischievous, vagrant, seraphic look, And try if we cannot feel forsaken. from “In Neglect” Robert Frost: Marriage
At 35, Frost and his wife left the US and moved to England. They took up farming again. • His first book was published: A Boy’s Will • English reviewers went nuts, captivated by his simple diction and sharp observations. • “Mr. Frost has turned the living speech of men and women into poetry.” • his poems’ “downright knowledge, their vivid observation, rich enjoyment of all kinds of practical life.” Robert Frost: Moving Abroad
Frost had some literary acquaintances while in England, including Ezra Pound and William Butler Yeats. • Yeats said A Boy’s Will was “the best poetry written in America for some time.” • This collection contains some of Frost’s best-known poems: “Mending Wall,” “The Death of the Hired Man,” “After Apple-Picking,” and “Home Burial.” Robert Frost: Moving Abroad
Frost came back to the US after the outbreak of WWI in 1915. • He was famous and revered: • Phi Beta Kappa recognition at Tufts College • Elected to the National Institute of Arts and Letters • Phi Beta Kappa poet at Harvard “A Stimulator rather than a teacher.” His role was “not to instruct but to excite” Robert Frost: Moving Home!
His first son (Elliott) died from cholera at the age of three. • Their last child (a daughter) lived for only three days. • Two daughters (Lesley and Irma) had unhappy marriages and painful divorces. One was committed to a mental hospital. • Daughter Marjorie died shortly after the birth of her first child. • Wife Elinor died of heart disease. • Son Carol committed suicide. Robert Frost: Rough Times
None of these traumatic experiences found their way directly into Frost’s poetry. • Frost did not seem to use his art as therapy… which is different from other artists? • These experiences may shape and color a few of his world views, however… life’s possibilities and its limits? Robert Frost: Rough Times
“I would have written on my stone: I had a lover’s quarrel with the world.” Frost’s Legacy?
Biographers have been quite contradictory… Frost’s Legacy?
In Lawrance Thompson's humorless, three-volume official biography (1966-1976) Frost was presented as a misanthrope, anti-intellectual, cruel, and angry man. • In Jay Parini's work (1999) he was again viewed with sympathy: ''He was a loner who liked company; a poet of isolation who sought a mass audience; a rebel who sought to fit in.” Frost’s Legacy
HUMANITY! “In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: it goes on.”He is often called a “nature poet”… not so. Nature may be the setting of many poems… but not the subject. Frost’s Central Subject
Contradictions • Common, everyday speech (PHEW!) set within formal patterns of line and stanza • Themes of alienation and isolation • Poems set in nature (again… not ABOUT nature) • Deep meaning exist beneath a simple exterior… which is why you’ll do great on the IOC! Aspects of Frost Poetry
The cycle of the seasons • Night and day • Rural images • Natural phenomenon Motifs in Frost’s Poetry
The juxtaposition of calm, rural, peaceful settings with an underlying darkness. • Literary critic Lionel Trilling called Frost “a poet who terrifies.” • There may be an uneasy undertone Frost – Look For…
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I –I took the one less traveled by… (Road Not Taken) • Earth’s the right place for love:I don’t know where it’s likely to go better.I’d like to go by climbing a birch tree (Birches) • He is all pine and I am apple orchard.My apple trees will never get acrossAnd eat the cones under his pines… (Mending Wall) • I am overtiredOf the great harvest I myself desired. (Apple Picking) Themes – The Human Condition
We keep the wall between us as we go(Mending Wall) • Two roads diverged in a wood, and I –I took the one less traveled by (Road Not Taken) • And they, since theyWere not the one dead, turned to their affairs(Out, Out) • Whose only play was what he found himselfSummer or winter, and could play alone(Birches) Themes – Isolation
And looked down one as far as I couldTo where it bent in the undergrowth(Road Not Taken) • The gaps I mean,No one has seen them made or heard them made,But at spring mending-time we find them there(Mending Time) • I thought of questions that have no reply(Tuft) • It’s when I’m weary of considerations,And life is too much like a pathless wood(Birches) Themes – Mysteries of Life
A message from the dawnThat made me hear the wakening birds around(Tuft) • Essence of winter sleep is on the night,The scent of apples: I am drowsing off.(Apple Picking) • So was I once myself a swinger of birches.And so I dream of going back to be.(Birches) • Earth’s the right place for love:I don’t know where it’s likely to go better.(Birches) Themes – Nature/Human Relationship
I shall be telling this with a sighSomewhere ages and ages hence(Road Not Taken) • Little – less – nothing! – and that ended it.No more to build on there. And they, since theyWere not the one dead, turned to their affairs,”(Out, out) • May no fate willfully misunderstand meAnd half grant what I wish and snatch me awayNot to return(Birches) Themes – Passage of Time
“A poem begins in delight and ends in wisdom.” • “A poem begins as a lump in the throat, a sense of wrong, a homesickness, a lovesickness.” • “No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader.” • “The best way out is always through.” Some Great Quotes:
We’ll go through 3-4 together, including his most famous “Road Not Taken.” You may IOC me. • You’ll be paired up and you’ll teach… YAY! Each pair will be responsible for one poem. • Your IOC will be on one of Frost’s poems. You’ll be so prepared… a walk in the park. An Oversimplified Look at our Unit…