Biographies / Robert Frost

Robert Frost

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Autor:  anton  04 November 2010
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Robert Frost

Robert Frost is a familiar name to many people for his poetry and less familiar for his thought-provoking quotes. He once said, “I took the road less traveled by, and that has made all the difference,” in which he indeed did. His life consisted of many twists and turns that, in some other person, could prove to be a damper in one’s success. Frost took advantage of the hard times and turned them into good; changing his streak on America as a great poet.

Robert Frost was born on March 26th, 1874 in San Francisco, California to Isabelle Moodie Frost, casually known as Bell, and William Prescott Frost (Costello). During his young childhood, the Frost family lived in a small apartment. His father was a journalist, and his mother stayed at home raising her son (Angyal 556). Frost’s father was an alcoholic, a gambler, and a devoted politician (Ron Carnell) during Robert’s childhood, so his mother would shelter him from the abuse by teaching him inspirational literature, and reading scripts from the Bible (Angyal 557). It was during this rough time, at such a tender age, that Robert’s poetic niche began.

Robert’s father died in 1885 of Tuberculosis, when Frost was only 11 years old. His remaining family moved to the east to be with his grandparents (Angyal 557). This was the beginning of his famous New England themed poetry. They were located in Lawrence, Massachusetts for much of Frost’s late childhood and teenage years (Angyal

557). To support the family, Bell began teaching at a local elementary school. Robert helped out with expenses with small part time jobs in-between school (Angyal 558).

Robert Frost was an excellent student; achieving in sports, debate, and editor of the school newspaper. Robert graduated co-valedictorian in 1892 with Elinor Miriam White. He then attended Dartmouth College in New Hampshire in 1892 (Angyal 558). However, he only was enrolled for one semester. He returned home to work in different jobs such as factory hand and newspaperman (Pritchard). In 1894, his first poem was sold to a New York magazine, The Independent, entitled ‘My Butterfly: An Elegy,’ (Pritchard) which was written for his soon to be wife, Elinor Miriam White (Ketzle).

In 1895, Robert Frost married Elinor in Lawrence, Massachusetts. Wanting to expand the family, they gave birth to a son only a year after they were joined in Holy matrimony naming him Elliott (Winnick). During that time, the couple both taught at local schools (Pritchard). 1897 Robert decided to attend college again, in which he enrolled in Harvard as a special student for three semesters (Angyal 560).

After leaving Harvard, Frost’s family moved to a farm in Derry, New Hampshire, purchased by Frost’s grandfather. In 1900, his second child was born, a daughter with the name Lesley (Pritchard). During this quiet time in the country, undisturbed by the business of the city life, Frost enjoyed spending time appreciating his family and the majestic view of the New England setting. He wrote many poems that would soon be the contents of which were his future published volumes. His first child, Elliot, died of Cholera the same year. Alas, along with the death of Elliot, Frost’s mother dies of cancer; on a happier note, his family is extended even more after the sad losses of his dear loved ones with two girls and one boy over 4 years (Angyal 560).

Unfortunately, Frost’s farming was unsuccessful, and he began teaching at a secondary school in New Hampshire. He was an English teacher at Pinkerton Academy for 5 years. He accepted an offer to teach at the State Normal School in Plymouth, New Hampshire, in 1911 and sold the Derry farm. However, he only worked there for less than a year before retiring to devote full attention to his family and writing (Schmidt 2).

In 1912, Frost moves his family to England in hopes of advancing his writing publication (Angyal 560). His odds of being noticed by the right publishers were for him, and his poetry was divulged in 1913, accepted by a London publisher. His first book was titled A Boy’s Will, followed by North of Boston printed a year later (Ron Carnell).

After success in his first two books, Frost and his family moved back to America in 1915, due to the outbreak of World War II, moving in New York. He met Henry Holt, an American publisher, and together they produced two poetry volumes. Frost’s family again moved to New Hampshire, settling on a farm in the town of Franconia (Angyal 560).

Frost begins teaching at Amherst College in Amherst Massachusetts in 1916, and publishes his third volume of poetry, Mountain Interval. He began to have a liking to reading his poems out loud to public gatherings in which he gained respect from students at colleges and universities, and received numerous honors (Pritchard). He only stayed at Amherst for 5 years, in which he was offered a teaching job during summer at the Bread Loaf Writers Conference in Middlebury, Vermont. He accepted the job (Angyal 560).

From here on Frost becomes a national icon, receiving great honors, such as the Pulitzer Prize for New Hampshire: a Poem with Notes and Grace Notes, in 1924. Six years later he receives another Pulitzer Prize for Collected Poems (Angyal 560).

The next nine years were very sorrowful in Frost’s life. His daughter, Marjorie, died in 1934 at age 29 from a puerperal fever from childbirth. His wife dies of heart failure in Gainesville, Florida in 1938. Then to top it all off, his only surviving son past infancy commits suicide in 1940 (Angyal 561), leaving Frost with only two daughters, Lesley and Irma. However, Irma suffered mental instabilities and was put into an institution. These family tragedies showed in his poetry, such as A Witness Tree, where his dark basis is thought to be due to the dreadful decade Frost previously encountered, during which he received his third Pulitzer Prize for A Further Range in 1937 (Pritchard).

The rest of the years of Frost’s life are brighter. He is awarded his fourth Pulitzer Prize for A Witness Tree in 1943; he was honored by the U.S Senate on his 75th birthday on March 16th, 1950, awarded honorary doctorates by Oxford and Cambridge universities, and even takes the opportunity to recite “The Gift Outright” at President John F. Kennedy inauguration in 1961, then to cloud up his victories, enters a hospital for prostate cancer (Angyal 561).

Robert Frost’s last award was the Bollingen Prize for Poetry before his death on January 19th, 1963 (Angyal 561). His life was filled with fullness. Talent surrounded him from the beginning, and Frost embraced it like no other. He fell in love with a wonderful woman in which they had 6 children; 2 that died at a young age, and becoming an American legend for beautiful poetry about the part of his native country he loved most: New England. America will look up to Robert Frost as an icon to wonderful literature, as well as surviving the tough times life can throw.



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