Robert Frost: Poet, Icon, Legend

Topics: Poetry, Robert Frost, Tragedy Pages: 5 (1726 words) Published: June 16, 2009
Robert Frost: Poet, Icon, Legend
It is really no surprise that Robert Frost possessed such an intense love of literature. Both of his parents, Isabelle Moody and William Prescott Frost, Jr. were teachers who exposed him to the likes of Shakespeare, Wordsworth and Burns at a very early age. Born on March 26, 1874, Frost almost immediately developed a love of nature and the countryside. Although his life was filled with unthinkable tragedy, he managed to overcome the obstacles and become one of the most beloved American poets of all time (Parini 14-20). Frost's most valuable contribution to American Literature was his ability to relate to the common man through his writing; this was accomplished through his masterful blending of traditional iambic pentameter with common speaking rhythms to create free verse.

Robert Lee Frost was named after the confederate general, Robert E. Lee, in San Francisco, California. At the age of five, Frost entered kindergarten but due to nervous stomach pains he stayed only one day. Through the years he made several attempts to return, only to experience the same result. Because of this, his mother homeschooled Frost until he was ten years old. At that time, his father died and because it was his desire to be buried in New Hampshire, the family moved. It was there that Isabelle returned to teaching to support her children and for the first time, Frost was successful in school. He continued on to Lawrence High School where he graduated as the valedictorian in 1892. It was there that he met Elinor White who would later become his wife and was first published in the Lawrence HS Bulletin (Robert Frost Biography 1).

Frost then attended Dartmouth College but only stayed for one semester. Upon returning home he began teaching and writing as a sideline. After several of his poems were published, he began reporting for the Lawrence Daily American and the Sentinel. In 1895, Elinor finally agreed to marry Frost and shortly thereafter their first child, Elliott, was born in 1896. Frost was awarded the Sewall Scholarship and decided to return college, this time at Harvard. This attempt also failed and he left in 1899 (Robert Frost Biography 1). This time period marks the beginning of a series of life-changing events for Frost.

In 1899, Frost's health was failing and he was advised by his doctor to abandon his sedentary lifestyle. He moved his family to his grandfather's poultry farm and became a farmer. Tragedy struck in 1900 when Elliott died of cholera. The death of their son put a great strain on Robert and Elinor's marriage and they began to drift apart. During this time period known as "The Derry Years" Frost continued writing and his experiences on the farm influenced him to write two of his most famous poems, "Home Burial" and "The Mending Wall".

In "Home Burial" we can see great examples of Frost's common language and ability to capture the readers' attention with his variance from strict iambic pentameter. In lines 18 and 19 we see his creative genius:

'You don't know how to ask it.'

'Help me, then.'

The visual presentation of these lines and the break in pattern from the other verses clearly represent the distance between the husband and wife. Toward the end of the poem, the wife repeats the words her husband said upon returning from burying their son:

"Three foggy mornings and one rainy day
Will rot the best birch fence a man can build."
The wife is angry at her husband's lack of grief after such a horrible task; she fails to realize the symbolism of nature taking their son as it takes the fence. This further indicates the lack of communication and understanding between them. The title, "Home Burial" seems to refer to several deaths-the death of the child, the death of the husband's control over the wife and the death of their emotional relationship (Merriman 1). Because the poem is written in basic speaking language and deals with the brutal reality of the loss...
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