V.4. Robert Frost • Focus of Study • Life Experience • Literary Career • Point of View • Style • Representative Poems
V.4.Robert Frost • One of America's leading 20th-century poets. • A four-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize. • An essentially pastoral poet. • The unofficial poet laureate of America.
Life Experience • 1874 - Born on March 26 in San Francisco. • 1885 - Father dies. Family moves to Lawrence, Mass. • 1894- sells "My Butterfly: An Elegy" to The Independent. • 1895 - works as reporter in Lawrence, and marries Elinor White. • 1897-1899 attends Harvard College. • 1912 - moves in England and devotes to writing full time.
Literary Career • 1913 - A Boy's Will is published. • 1915 - Arrives in New York. North of Boston is published. • 1916- Mountain Interval is published. • 1924- receives a Pulitzer Prize in poetry for New Hampshire (1923). • 1938 - Elinor dies of heart failure. • 1939 - Awarded the Gold Medal by the national Institute of Arts and Letters in New York. • 1943 - Awarded Pulitzer Prize for A Witness Tree. • 1963 - Awarded the Bollingen Prize for Poetry. Dies of pneumonia
Point of View • Frost was neither a conventionalist nor a radical modernist. His poetry shows a particular vigorousness of daily life and a remarkable understanding of modern man’s situation. • Frost believes that we are living in a God-directed world, but he also ponders the mysteries of the universe; man lives with ambiguity; • He rejects both permanent truth and the idea of alienation. • He rejects the romantic view of daydreams, and advocates a life based on courage or facts. • He emphasizes the value of society or human participation based on love and work.
Style • A poem begins in delight and ends in wisdom. • Frost's poetry is largely allegorical. • Prefers to build up the tension between the two ways of looking at one thing. • Not a naturalist, but favors selected realism. • Noted for his conversational style conducted in the common speech of his native New England. • Poetic devices are traditional, but his skillful use of blank verse and lyric shows his ability to handle the old form for his new subject matter.
Foot of Poetry • Iamb( or iambic foot): A metrical foot consisting of an unstressed syllable followed by a stressed syllable or a short syllable followed by a long syllable, as in delay. (Trochee or trochaic foot) • Anapaest( or anapaestic foot): A metrical foot composed of two short syllables followed by one long one, as in the word seventeen. ( Dactyl or dactylic foot, as in flattery ) • Monometer, dimeter, trimeter, tetrameter, pentameter, hexameter.
Representative Poems • "After Apple-Picking" • Form: no preordained rhyme scheme，basically iambic, and mostly in pentameter. • Theme: The harvest of apples can be read as a harvest of any human effort--study, laying bricks, writing poetry, etc. • The incredible quantity of fruit as possibility which is nearly achieved at the cost of physical and mental exhaustion.
The Road Not Taken • Form: four stanzas of five lines, rhyme scheme is abaab, an iambic tetrameter base. • Theme: archetypal dilemma, Identical forks symbolize for us the nexus of free will and fate: we are free to choose, but we do not really know beforehand what we are choosing between. • There is no real guide or definitive basis for decision-making, the nature of the decision is such that there is no Right Path for life.
Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening • Form: iambic tetrameter. rhyme scheme is aaba, bbcb, ccdc, dddd. • Theme: reveal the contradictions in life: law and freedom, civilization and nature, reality and fantasy, etc. • Life is beautiful, alluring as well as complex, arduous. Life is short and time flies, with responsibility on one’s shoulder, one should make sustainedeffort for his cause.
Study Questions • Discuss the anticipation or remorse in "The Road Not Taken." • What is ironic about the speaker's statements concerning his neighbor's opinion of wall-building in "Mending Wall"? • Discuss Robert Frost's applications of "the sound of sense."
For Further Reading • Frost, Robert. The Poetry of Robert Frost. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1969. • Frost, Robert. Selected Letters of Robert Frost. Ed. Lawrance Thompson. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1964. • Jarrell, Randall. Poetry & the Age. New York: The Ecco Press, 1980. • Oster, Judith. Toward Robert Frost: The Reader and the Poet. Athens, Georgia: The University of Georgia Press, 1991.