Robert Frost

Robert Frost, four-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize and a Poet Laureate of the United States (from 1958-1959), was a traditional poet who often used form and meter in his poetry while integrating aspects of colloquial American speech into his verse.

Photo: Robert Frost, 1959, Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division

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    Born in California, Frost moved to Massachusetts in 1885 with his family upon the death of his father. Frost’s grandfather was the overseer of a New England mill, and Frost grew up in the city of Lawrence. He studied at Dartmouth College briefly, then attended Harvard and married Elinor Miriam White.

    Because of his growing family, Frost left Harvard and moved his family to a farm in Derry, New Hampshire. For several years, Frost worked on the farm and wrote early in the morning. In 1912, after teaching English in New Hampshire for a five years, Frost and his family moved to England, where he befriended Ezra Pound. His first volume of poetry, A Boy’s Will, was published in 1913. When World War I began in 1915, he returned to America.

    Throughout his life, Frost held several jobs at colleges and universities, including Amherst College and the University of Michigan Ann Arbor. He was instrumental in establishing the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference at Middlebury College in Vermont. Frost was awarded over 40 honorary degrees. Two years after performing a reading of his poem at the inauguration of John F. Kennedy, Frost died of prostate cancer.

    Frost’s poetic voice is uniquely important to American literature. On the surface, his poems may seem charming and nostalgic, in love with nature and life. However, most of his poems also reveal a dark, pessimistic side as well. Despite several tragedies in his personal life, Frost was committed to objectivity in the writing of poetry, and the use of 19th century forms and meter helped him to accomplish this goal.

    –Christie Finn

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