Biography of Robert Frost.7pages

Feb 28, 2024

Biography of Robert Frost

Robert Lee Frost was the most recognized American poet of the twentieth century. He was able to write many poems and plays throughout his life but was also faced with the frequent deaths of his loved ones. This research paper, therefore, looks deeply into the life of Robert Frost from childhood and adulthood, his family and children and the poems he wrote. The paper also analyzes his significant achievements in life and prizes won diseases and death surrounding his life, and an analysis of one of his poems.

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Childhood and Adulthood
Robert Frost’s early childhood was pretty normal. He was born on March 26th, 1874, in the United States of America, in San Francisco, California (Meyers and Jeffery “Robert Frost”). Later in 1884, his family moved to Lawrence, Massachusetts, after his father’s death. In the year 1890, Frost was able to publish his first poem at the age of sixteen in Lawrence, Massachusetts. By this time, Frost was in Lawrence high school, and the poem was published in the school magazine.

He completed high school in the year 1892. Robert Frost went back home to work to support his family. Robert’s grandfather had purchased a piece of land in Derry, New Hampshire, before his death. For nine years, Robert Frost did farming and wrote several poems in the mornings. He had no idea that his poetry would later promote him to a famous poet in America.

However, Robert’s efforts to do farming proved futile, and he returned to teaching where he was an English teacher between 1906 and 1911 at Pinkerton Academy. Later he was a teacher at Plymouth State University, known as the New Hampshire Normal School. Besides teaching, Robert Frost did other jobs, such as newspaper delivery and working in a factory. However, Robert Frost realized that he had no passion for the kind of jobs he did since his calling was to be a poet.

Family and Children
Robert Frost had a relatively large family and many children. He was born in a family of 2 children, with him being the firstborn. His father was journalist William Prescott Frost, Jr, and his mother was Isabelle Moodie, a teacher. Frost’s father was from England, while his mother was an immigrant from Scott. William Prescott was a teacher and later became an editor of the San Francisco Evening Bulletin. In 1876, two years later, after the birth of Robert Frost, William and Isabelle gave birth to Jeanie Florence Frost. Robert Frost, therefore, had only one sibling.

Due to her mental health issues, Jeanie Frost was not lucky to have a family. Robert Frost first proposed to marry Elinor White in 1894 to celebrate his achievement of having been able to sell out his first poem “My Butterfly: an elegy”. However, Elinor declined since her dream was to complete college at St.Lawrence University before getting married (Meyers and Jeffery “Robert Frost”). Later after graduation, they were married at Harvard University, where Robert Frost studied liberal arts for two years. Elinor Frost was born on October 25th, 1873. Frost and Elinor were blessed with six children: Lesley Frost Ballantine, Marjorie Frost, Irma Frost, Elinor Bettina Frost, Carol Frost, and Elliot Frost.

Poems and Plays
Robert Frost wrote many poems in his life and a few plays. Notably, Frost was a celebrated poet in America, and his contribution to poetry was outstanding. He was praised all over and recognized to be the best American poet by Randall Jarrell, who was also a poet and a critic(Meyers and Jeffery “ Robert Frost”). He used his vast knowledge to express human experience through poems. Frost’s writing style was also impressive, and he had a good choice of words. Frost’s first poem “My Butterfly: an Ellegy”, was published on November 8th, 1894.

The poem was published in the school magazine, which motivated him to write even more (Linda 201). The poem was sold at 15 dollars. While living in Great Britain, Robert Frost published his first poetry book, A Boy’s Will, in 1913. His peers, such as Edward Thomas, T.E.Hulme, and Ezra Pound, surrounded him. With support from his acquaintances and while living in England, Frost wrote many of his best poems.
Although Robert Frost managed to write so many poems, he only wrote four plays. In 1929, Frost wrote two plays, A Way Out and The Cow’s in the Corn (Linda 206). Later in 1945, he wrote another play, A Masque of Reason, and another play, A Masque of Mercy, two years later. Besides writing poems and plays, Robert Frost wrote several published letters. For example, in 1963, The Letters of Robert Frost to Louis Untermeyer was published.

Achievements and Prizes won.
Throughout Robert Frost’s career, he won many prizes and achievements. Robert Frost
received his first honorary degree from Harvard University. Later on, as he ventured more into
studies, he acquired more than 40 honorary degrees, including those from Cambridge, Princeton,
and Oxford universities (Linda 203). Robert Frost was notable achievement to be the first person at Dartmouth College to receive two degrees. In Amherst College, the main library was named
after Robert Frost. In Addition to the library, Robert Frost also had the honor of having a school
named after him, the Robert Frost School, located in Fairfax, Virginia.

His book New Hampshire: A poem with Notes and Grace Notes earned him the first of his four Pulitzer Prizes in 1924. He would acquire more Pulitzer Prizes for poems collected in 1931.On January 20 th , 1961, at the age of 86, Robert Frost was privileged to give a poetry performance during the inauguration of President John F Kennedy. For the inauguration, Frost had prepared a special poem, “Dedication”, but the sun’s brightness could not allow him to read it well (Meyers and Jeffery “Robert Frost”).

In place of the written poem, Frost recited another poem “The Gift Outright”, since it had already stuck in his mind. Today known as Frost’s palace, Frost’s homestead serves as a poetry conference site and a museum. As an English teacher at Amherst College, Frost advised his students that they should be able to understand the various intonations and sounds of English during writing. Robert Frost termed his unique understanding of English as “the sound of sense.”

Having taught at the Bread Loaf School of English of Middlebury College, Robert Frost is recognized as having a significant impact on the institution’s growth and its writing systems. Frosts received the United States Congressional Gold Medal in 1960 “In recognition of his poetry, which has enriched the culture of the United States and the philosophy of the world.”President Kennedy had the honor of presenting the medal to him later in March 1962(Meyers and Jeffery “Robert Frost”). Additionally, in 1962, the MacDowell Colony presented him with the Edward MacDowell Medal for his distinguished contributions to the arts sector.

Throughout his life, Robert Frost was privileged to be nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature a total of 31 times. Frost was chosen as the Poet Laureate of Vermont in June 1922 by the League of the Women’s clubs in the state. Later on, on July 22nd, 1961, the state legislature declared Frost as the Poet Laureate of Vermont. The position was created and authenticated by a joint Resolution R-59 of the Acts of 1961. Robert Frost also won the Bollingen prize in 1963.

Deaths surrounding Frost’s Life
Robert Frost’s life was filled with diseases and the deaths of loved ones. Grief and loss
were frequent encounters with him. William Frost, his father, succumbed to tuberculosis in May
1885 when Robert Frost was only 11 years old (Meyers and Jeffery “Robert Frost”). Later 1900,
his mother, Isabelle Moodie, passed away in 1900 due to cancer complications. Robert Frost also
lost his grandfather shortly after purchasing a piece of land in Derry, New Hampshire.

His sister also left him in 1929 as a result of mental illness. It was so unfortunate that Robert Frost’s family had mental illness issues. This was evident when Roberts’s mother battled with depression besides cancer for quite an extended period. Robert and his wife Elinor were not an exception in battling with depression either. In 1947, Roberts’s daughter Irma had to be admitted to a mental hospital since her condition worsened with time.

Robert Frost’s children passed away due to various health complications, and only two, Lesley and Irma, lived after his death. Elliot succumbed to cholera, Elinor lost her life a day after her birth, and Carol, Irma, and Marjorie lost their lives due to puerperal fever that occurred right after birth. His wife, Elinor Frost, lived with heart complications for the more significant part of her life, and in 1937 she was diagnosed with cancer. Living with heart problems and breast cancer was not easy; a year later, in 1938, Elinor succumbed to heart failure.

Robert Frost lost his life on January 29th, 1963, due to prostate surgery complications. By his death, Robert Frost had lived for 88 years. Robert Frost was then laid to rest in Bennington, Vermont, at the Old Bennington cemetery. His epitaph summarized his challenging experiences while alive: “I had a lover’s quarrel with the world,” and it was a line in one of his poems (Robert 305).

Analysis of the poem “The Road not Taken” by Robert Frost.
The literal meaning of the poem “The Road not Taken” is a story about a person who is on a journey and he reaches a point where the roads diverge, and he has to choose one of the roads because there is no way he can use the two at the same time (Robert 122). The theme in this poem is based on the decisions we make in life and their consequences. It is not easy to know where a road you did not choose could have taken you, but it would be different from what you chose. The persona in the poem is in a dilemma where he has to choose one road to continue with his journey. Similarly, we are forced to make decisions in life, and the results of what we choose are due to the decisions we make. The speaker chose the less traveled road and tells us that in the future, he might have to revisit the decision he made since it changed his life henceforth.

The poem is composed of 4 stanzas, each containing five lines. The poem is a sort of metaphor where the road refers to life and the road to be chosen refers to the decisions we have to make in life in order to experience change. The poem’s tone is meditative because the person has to decide between two options, and it is not easy because each option will have different consequences.

The primary poetic device in this poem is a metaphor, where one thing is used to signify something else in real life. The poem also uses rhythm, where there is a regular pattern of words, and the sounds can be felt. In the first stanza, the words wood stood and could at the end of the lines have the same pattern, creating rhythm in the poem. Also, the words fair, wear, and there at the end of the lines in the second stanza create rhythm.

Generally, Robert Frost has been depicted as a hardworking and self motivated person throughout his life. His passion for poetry is evident in the many poems he managed to write, and the world appreciated his sense of art. His proficiency in writing poems enabled him to win several prizes, and the achievements he made in his life are remarkable. However, Robert Frost might have been unlucky on the family side, where he lost his parents, children and sibling due to various illnesses. Battling with depression might have been caused by the many challenges he encountered in life. All in all, Robert Frost remains a legend in poetry, and his pieces of work will always be used for learning by many generations.

Works Cited

Hart, Linda. “The English years of Robert Frost.” Contemporary Review 290.1689 (2008): 200-207.

Meyers, Jeffrey. “Robert Frost.” Magill Book Reviews, Aug. 1997. EBSCOhost, https://search-

Frost, Robert. The collected poems of Robert Frost. Vol. 7. Chartwell Books, 2016.

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