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Book Title: Robert Frost Selected Poems, Penguin,|
The author of the book: Robert Frost
Date of issue: 1973
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Format files: PDF
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I love this book. And I love the way in which Frost writes poetry.
The success of the poems resides in their ability to speak to the reader; they have a certain sense of universal quality as they evoke profound mental states. He does this through using objects, often natural ones, to describe a certain human emotion or feeling. A tree in the wind embodies indecision and the inability to move on. A road split in two represents a part of the human experience that I can now only think of in the terms Frost put them in.
I am, of course, referring to one of his most famous poems:
"Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
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 travelled by,
And that has made all the difference.”
I remember the first time I read those lines, I was wrought with regret: regret for a decision I had not yet made. And that bespeaks the power of these words. They are beyond time and place; they demonstrate the interconnectedness of all things: they strike directly at conformity. Memory and regret can be triggered by such a simple image, one that Frost has captured all so perfectly.
Although a modernist writer, Frost did not abandon all poetical tradition like his peers. His writing is a hybrid of new and old. The language is simple and direct, though it also carries with it the weight of the past. At times he writes in blank verse and at other times he experiments with form and style. For me this speaks of a certain sense of integrity; he was not quite ready to turn his back on generation, after generation, of poetical tradition: he used it to inform and improve his modern work. It also means that his poetry does not all feel the same; some poems are vastly different to each other. This meant that the collection stayed rather fresh even towards the end.
I read this book over a number of years. I first picked it up back in 2015 and I think my appreciation of Frost has only grown since. Whilst he is not my favourite poet, I certainly count him amongst my top five. I just love the way he uses the natural world.
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Read information about the authorFlinty, moody, plainspoken and deep, Robert Frost was one of America's most popular 20th-century poets. Frost was farming in Derry, New Hampshire when, at the age of 38, he sold the farm, uprooted his family and moved to England, where he devoted himself to his poetry. His first two books of verse, A Boy's Will (1913) and North of Boston (1914), were immediate successes. In 1915 he returned to the United States and continued to write while living in New Hampshire and then Vermont. His pastoral images of apple trees and stone fences -- along with his solitary, man-of-few-words poetic voice -- helped define the modern image of rural New England. Frost's poems include "Mending Wall" ("Good fences make good neighbors"), "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening" ("Whose woods these are I think I know"), and perhaps his most famous work, "The Road Not Taken" ("Two roads diverged in a wood, and I-- / I took the one less traveled by"). Frost was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for poetry four times: in 1924, 1931, 1937 and 1943. He also served as "Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress" from 1958-59; that position was renamed as Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry (or simply Poet Laureate) in 1986.
Frost recited his poem "The Gift Outright" at the 1961 inauguration of John F. Kennedy... Frost attended both Dartmouth College and Harvard, but did not graduate from either school... Frost preferred traditional rhyme and meter in poetry; his famous dismissal of free verse was, "I'd just as soon play tennis with the net down."
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