English Literature
Robert Frost

Robert Frost

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Robert Frost: A Literary Legend of Rural America

Robert Frost is a renowned American poet, celebrated for his unique ability to weave rural landscapes into symbolic representations of the human experience. Despite facing initial challenges and rejection, Frost continued to write and has since become the most decorated poet in American history. His impressive accolades include four Pulitzer Prizes and the distinguished Congressional Gold Medal.

Early Years and Education

Born in San Francisco in 1874 to William Prescott Frost Jr. and Isabelle Moodie, Frost's father passed away from tuberculosis when he was just eleven years old. The family relocated to Lawrence, Massachusetts, where Frost was raised by his grandparents.

During his high school years, Frost discovered a passion for writing and reading poetry, leading to the publication of his work in the school magazine. He graduated as valedictorian and delivered a speech alongside his future wife, Elinor White, whom he met during their time in school.

Frost briefly attended Dartmouth College and Harvard University but was unable to complete his studies due to illness.

Adulthood and Career

After leaving school, Frost explored various occupations, including teaching, factory work, and newspaper editing. However, his love for poetry never waned, and he continued to write and publish his work.

In 1894, Frost's first published poem, "My Butterfly: An Elegy," appeared in the Independent newspaper. The following year, he married Elinor White, and they moved to a farm in New Hampshire, gifted to them by Frost's grandfather. Frost found inspiration in farming and incorporated it into his poetry.

After sailing to Britain in 1912, Frost gained recognition as a poet and formed friendships with other poets, including Edward Thomas. He received widespread praise for his work.

In 1913, Frost published his first poetry collection, "A Boy's Will," followed by "North of Boston" a year later. These works solidified his fame in both Britain and America. He returned to the United States when World War I broke out, where his popularity as a poet continued to soar.

Later Years and Achievements

For the remainder of his life, Frost resided on his New Hampshire farm and taught at various universities, including Amherst College. He continued to write and publish poetry, with notable works such as "Mountain Interval," "New Hampshire," and "Steeple Bush."

Frost's poetic talent earned him four Pulitzer Prizes and the position of poetry consultant to the Library of Congress. He was also awarded over forty honorary degrees from prestigious universities.

In 1961, Frost was selected to recite a poem at President John F. Kennedy's inauguration, where he delivered his famous piece, "The Gift Outright." Frost passed away in 1963 at the age of 88 and was laid to rest in Bennington, Vermont.

Robert Frost's Distinct Literary Style

Renowned for his vivid portrayal of nature and rural New England life, Robert Frost is a celebrated poet who held a deep appreciation for traditional poetic forms. His mastery of colloquial language allowed his work to transcend societal boundaries and captivate readers of all backgrounds.

  • A Love for New England Farm Life

Frost's Poetic Techniques

Frost's unique style is characterized by a natural conversational rhythm, achieved through his skilled use of meter and rhyme.

Typically, Frost employed traditional stanzas and metrical lines in his poems, favoring simple rhyme schemes such as ABAB and AABB. His go-to stanza structure was the quatrain, consisting of four lines.

Moreover, Frost was a proponent of blank verse, an unrhymed form of verse in iambic pentameter. He expertly utilized this structure in some of his most famous pieces, including "Mending Wall" (1914), "Out, Out" (1916), and "Birches" (1916).

"Blank verse: Unrhymed verse in iambic pentameter."

Frost found solace in established poetic forms, allowing him to focus on the content of his work, free from the pressure of keeping up with ever-evolving modern styles.

Robert Frost and Free Verse: A Critique

Robert Frost was not one to follow popular trends, as evidenced by his lack of interest in the popular literary movement of free verse. In fact, he famously compared it to "playing tennis without a net." His preference for structure and form in poetry is evident in his works, which often utilize consistent meter, rhyme schemes, and patterns.

Frost's literary style has been a subject of much debate among scholars. While some argue that his work reflects characteristics of 19th-century American poetry, others believe that he successfully incorporated traditional techniques in a way that resonated with modern readers. Frost's approach to writing was unique, as he chose to focus on universal themes and used a direct and simple style to convey them.

One common theme in Frost's poetry is his love and reverence for nature. Growing up in rural New England, his writing is heavily influenced by his surroundings and the beauty and power of nature. Through his vivid depictions of pastoral settings, he often utilizes metaphors and symbolism to convey deeper meanings. He also explores the darker aspects of nature, showcasing its destructive and all-powerful nature. Some of his poems that prominently feature nature include "A Leaf-treader" (1930), "Birches" (1916), and "The Road Not Taken" (1916).

The theme of loneliness is another recurring motif in Frost's works. He often brings to life characters who lead seemingly mundane lives but are ultimately isolated by their unique perspectives and experiences. Through their struggles, Frost highlights the human condition and the longing for connection. Some of his poems that heavily incorporate this theme are "The Lockless Door" (1923), "Apple-Picking" (1914), and "Loneliness" (1916).

Hard work and duty are also central themes in Frost's poetry. Having grown up in the city but later spending time in rural areas, he greatly appreciated the hardworking and dutiful nature of individuals living in the countryside. He often celebrates the value of hard work and duty in his poems, such as in "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening" (1923) and "Mending Wall" (1914).

Robert Frost's Poetic Masterpieces

One of Frost's most famous poems, "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening," was published in 1923 and follows a speaker admiring the beauty of snow-covered woods. Despite being tempted to stay, he acknowledges his responsibilities and continues on his journey. This piece was written after a short stay in England and was inspired by walks with his friend, poet Edward Thomas.

"The Road Not Taken" (1916) is another notable poem by Frost that delves into themes of choice and uncertainty through the image of two diverging paths. Similarly, "Mending Wall" (1914) explores the importance of boundaries, both in relationships and literally through the rebuilding of a wall by two neighbors with different beliefs.

Frost's poem "Fire and Ice" (1920) from his collection "New Hampshire" uses fire and ice as symbols for desire and hate, as well as discussing which will ultimately lead to the end of the world. This subject may have been influenced by Dante's "Inferno" from his epic poem "Divine Comedy" (1320), showcasing Frost's ability to draw inspiration from various sources to create his own unique style of poetry.

Notable Sayings by Robert Frost

  • "In just three words, I can sum up all I've learned about life: it goes on."
  • "Do not allow yourself to be silenced or victimized. Never let others define your life; define it yourself."
  • "True education is being able to listen without losing your temper or self-confidence."
  • "Do not remove a fence until you understand why it was put there."
  • "Two paths diverged in a wooded area and I - I chose the less traveled one, and that has made all the difference." ('The Road Not Taken')
  • "We love things for what they are." ('Hyla Brook', 1916)

The Significance of the Narrator in Frost's Poems

Robert Frost's poems often feature a narrator who maintains an objective perspective and recounts the events of the poem. Some experts suggest that this narrator symbolizes Frost's own thoughts and beliefs. In certain poems, the narrator goes beyond observation and expresses personal reflections, as seen in 'Out, Out' (1916) where the narrator ponders upon a tragic accident and its outcome.

Here are some key points about Robert Frost:

  • Frost is one of the most acclaimed American poets of his time.
  • His love for poetry emerged during his high school years, and he published his first poem during this time.
  • Frost met his future wife, Elinor White, while attending high school.
  • He was awarded four Pulitzer prizes during his lifetime.
  • His poetry is admired for its graceful depictions of nature.


  • Jay Parini, 'Robert Frost: A Life', Macmillan, 2000
  • 'John F. Kennedy: A Man of This Century', CBS, 1963
  • Richard Ellman and Robert O'Clair, 'The Norton Anthology of Modern Poetry', 1988
  • 'Robert Frost Quotes', BrainyQuote.com, BrainyMedia Inc, 2022

What were Robert Frost's Main Subjects in His Poems?

Robert Frost: An Expert of Nature and Themes

Robert Frost was a celebrated poet who eloquently depicted the beauty of nature and explored various themes, including solitude, responsibility, mortality, and love.

If you're curious about Robert Frost's final resting place, it is located in Bennington, Vermont.

In his poem "Out, Out," the narrator presents an objective view of events but also shares personal musings at certain moments.

Did you know that Robert Frost was born in San Francisco, California? This is where his journey as a poet began.

Robert Frost's poetic style is often described as pastoral, conversational, and introspective.

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