As we prepare for National Poetry Month in April, today I’m introducing our readers to one of my favorite poets, Robert Frost. Though he was born in San Francisco on March 26, 1874, and lived for brief periods in England, Michigan, and Florida, Frost is usually associated with New England. His father died in California of tuberculosis in 1885, and he and his mother and sister moved to Lawrence, Massachusetts to live with Robert’s grandparents. He graduated from high school in Lawrence, and shared valedictorian honors with his future wife, Elinor Miriam White.
Robert attended Dartmouth and Harvard, but did not graduate from either location. After Elinor graduated from college, they married in 1895. Grandfather Frost bought the couple a farm near Derry, New Hampshire, and they lived on the farm until 1912. Four daughters and two sons were born to the couple there, and the oldest son and youngest daughter both died there.
By 1912, Elinor and Robert knew that farming was not enjoyable for them, and decided to sell the farm and move to England for a fresh start. While in England, Robert had two books of poetry published, and became friends with British poet Rupert Brooke and expatriate American poet Ezra Pound. As World War I escalated, the Frost family moved back to the United States and settled near Franconia, New Hampshire.
Frost’s reputation as a poet was established by the end of World War I, and he spent the rest of his life writing poetry, performing it, and teaching others. He was a long-term teacher at both Amhurst College in Massachusetts (1916 – 1938) and during the summer sessions at Middlebury College in Ripton, Vermont. By the time Elinor died in 1938, Robert was the recipient of three Pulitzer Prizes in poetry, for New Hampshire (1923), Collected Poems (1931), and A Further Range (1936). He received a fourth Pulitzer Prize for Witness Tree (1943).
In 1960, Congress bestowed on Robert Lee Frost the Congressional Gold Medal. At President John Fitzgerald Kennedy’s inauguration on January 20, 1961, Frost recited “A Gift Outright” during the televised ceremony. He also wrote “For John F. Kennedy his Inauguration” in honor of the occasion. Frost died two years later, on January 29, 1963, in Boston.
For those interested in experiencing Robert Frost’s view of the world, you are welcome to check out The Poetry of Robert Frost from the Bellevue University Library. Also, here are three links to further information on his life and works.