Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Robert Frost--National Poetry Month 2012

April is National Poetry Month and has been celebrated every year since 1996.  The library has a great display of poetry books this month at both locations--check one out.

One of my favorite poets is Robert Frost and last month I came across a few interesting and heartbreaking bits about his life.  Robert Frost was born March 26, 1874 in San Francisco. He moved to New England at the age of eleven and became interested in poetry during his high school years in Massachusetts. He took a long time to become a successful poet and struggled through poverty, depression, and the untimely deaths of several family members.  He published his first collection of poems when he was 39 and it was a major success.  This man endured so many tragedies that I am amazed that he could even get out of bed. His father died when he was eleven and his mother when he was twenty-six.  He lost his 4-year-old son Elliot of cholera in 1900 and his 3-day-old daughter Elinor Bettina in 1907.  His sister Jeanie died in an asylum in 1929 and his daughter Marjorie died in 1934 after childbirth. He outlived his wife Elinor, who died in 1938, by almost thirty years and his only other son Carol committed suicide in 1940.
March 7, 1923 was the day that his poem "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening" was published.  Frost said this was his favorite poem because he had based it on his own life.  One year on December 22nd, he realized that he and his wife wouldn't be able to afford gifts for their children.  He scrounged up some farm produce, took his wagon into town, and tried to sell enough to buy Christmas presents.  He couldn't sell a single thing, it was starting to snow, and it was getting dark. He was almost home when he was overcome with shame and grief and had to stop and cry.  Eventually, he collected himself and went home to his family.  His daughter Lesley said she remembered the story and that her father told her: "A man has as much right as a woman to a good cry now and again.  The snow gave me shelter; the horse understood and gave me the time."

Robert Frost is one of America's most celebrated poets and has won many honors including four Pulitzer Prizes. He read his poems at JFK's inauguration.  About Frost, the President said: "He has bequeathed his nation a body of imperishable verse from which Americans will forever gain joy and understanding." I like Frost's poetry because a lot of it is about the beauty of nature.  Sometimes I notice a layer of sadness in his poems -- now I know why.

"I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence;
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I--
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference."
(From "The Road Not Taken" by Robert Frost

Who is your favorite poet?

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