“A poem…begins as a lump in the throat, a sense of wrong, a homesickness, a lovesickness. It is a reaching-out toward expression; an effort to find fulfillment. A complete poem is one where an emotion finds the thought and the thought finds the words.”

– Robert Frost writing to Louis Untermeyer in 1916 1

Robert Frost’s poetry is on our tongues – we remember words that touch our hearts. It speaks for the earth as well as the depths of human feeling – both elation as in “sheer morning gladness at the brim,” or the sadness of “nothing to look backward to with pride, and nothing to look forward to with hope…”

In this brief consideration of Frost — a poet, scholar, teacher, neighbor and citizen, we provide excerpts from his writings and his lectures, insights into his values and interests from those who knew him or studied his work, and reflections on his character and influence.

Who is Robert Frost?

Robert Frost Photo by Yousuf Karsh

” He cuts across the class system in America and he speaks to both the ordinary man and woman and he speaks to the literary critic, the philosopher, the intellectual because he contains all of this in his work.

In the 20th century, I do think as an American poet, he stands head and shoulders above everybody else in representing the American voice in its granularity, its simpleness, its directness, and its modesty.

I think Frost is a uniquely American poet because he listened to the farmers in New Hampshire and Vermont. He listened to ordinary Americans, as he traveled around the country. He was interested in what he called, the sound of sense.

He was interested in taking the ordinary speaking voice, and finding the poetry in the syntax, in the way words are arranged, in using the language, the diction, the tones of ordinary speech and turning this common speech into language. He believed that poetry was the common language, ever so slightly broadened and heightened. His poems depend, rest on the foundation of ordinary human syntax and diction and expression. He understood American expression and he used a slight New England dialect in his writing, as well. That gives it a flavor of locality.

Frost wrote, “Locality gives art.” I thought that’s the essence of Frost right there. Locality gives art. He’s a poet of place, that place is New England, but he’s also a very American poet, so in a sense of place he comes out of the oldest part of America, which is New England.

He comes out of Massachusetts, where he was raised, he comes out of Vermont, New Hampshire, the places he thought of as north of Boston. That local diction, that local expression, is what makes him such a distinctly American voice. More so than any other poet of the 20th century, as far as I can tell. Frost’s popularity lies on this bedrock of familiarity. When people hear Frost reciting a poem, or when they read a poem by Frost, they hear their own voice at some level echoed back to them. This is speech they can respond to as being something deep in themselves. Frost gives American’s back their own speech … it’s slightly amplified and turned into a beautiful piece of poetry.

Jay Parini, Frost biographer and Middlebury College professor. 2

Jay Parini, Frost Biographer

In our companion text, Professor Parini discusses Frost’s techniques and the depth of his knowledge of nature:

I think part of Frost’s achievement was to find the correspondences between the spiritual and physical world. His nature is spiritual in its depth, with its symbolic resonances. Whatever season he writes about, it seems like a season of the soul; there is a perfect Frost poem for almost anytime of year. …

[Q]uite early in his career, Frost came to regard synecdoche as essential to his craft. Synecdoche allows one part of something to stand in for a larger or more general concept, so that one natural image leads us toward the whole of nature. And it’s important to make the connection here between synecdoche and metaphor, as they remain so closely related. A metaphor is often a symbol, of course, and symbolic thought involves synecdoche: you allow the part to imply or gesture toward something beyond it, to lead us into a wider arena of thought and feeling.

Needless to say, poetic thought is metaphorical thinking. The poet names something, and it implies other things; comparisons are made, however explicit or inexplicit. In “Education by Poetry,” which I take to be Frost’s most complete essay on poetics, he writes: “Poetry begins in trivial metaphors, pretty metaphors, ‘grace’ metaphors, and goes on to the profoundest thinking that we have. Poetry provides the one permissible way of saying one thing and meaning another. People say, ‘Why don’t you say what you mean?’ We never do that, do we, being all of us too much poets? We like to talk in parables and in hints and in indirections —whether from diffidence or some other instinct.”

It is, I would suggest, these “hints and indirections” that lie at the heart of Frost’s poetry. He says one thing, meaning another. He leads us one way while asking us to understand that another way exists, that there is a tension, a troubling double-consciousness that will never let one thing rest alone, that is always leading us astray or, ideally, saving us.

Frost continues: “I have wanted in late years to go further and further into making metaphor the whole of thinking.“ He notes that scientific and mathematical thought all depend heavily on metaphors; in this, he bridges the gap—he always did—between poetry and science. He was, at heart, a naturalist, and his examination of the natural world as an early ecologist, was profound and particular.

When I came to Middlebury, in the early eighties, I got to know Reginald Cook, who had taught American Literature for decades and was a good friend of Frost. They often took long hikes together in the Green Mountains. Once they began a hike on the Long Trail, on Bread Loaf Mountain, and they had not managed to get very far when Frost yelled ahead: “Hey, stop. Come here!” He led Cook to a tree where he found a peculiar green mold growing at the base of the trunk. Frost studied it for a while, but was unable to Identify the mold. He cut off a slice, put the sample into his handkerchief, then insisted on heading straight to the college library, where he knew there was a good book about molds. The point is that he wanted this kind of particular knowledge.

In fact, Frost had a more detailed sense of the natural world than almost any other major poet, including Wordsworth. He named particular trees, plants, and shrubs. He understood the disposition of pastureland and town. In “Directive,” for example—one of his most ambitious and intellectually rich poems—he demonstrated a remarkable grasp of geological formations.

This knowledge came from reading as well as close observation. Frost always read deeply in science, with a particular interest in geology and botany. But he also discovered a good deal of what he knew about the natural world from his hikes, his habitual walking in the woods.

His poems, quite often, feature a man walking out in the woods by himself… Reading Frost, one discovers the pattern repeated again and again: the solitary walker who confronts the nature of nature in New England firsthand and comes to understand something about the world, of nature and of spirit, by firsthand observation.

Frost was, and remains, America’s great poet of nature, especially the nature of New England. He was one of our most singular and striking voices. The complexity of his thought, coupled with the granular weight of his language, draw us back to his poetry again and again. It’s easy to underestimate Frost, as the lines themselves are both fetching and, as poetic language, quite simple. His simplicity is deceptive, and as one follows this poet through the woods, looking and listening beside him, watching the many transformations he described so well, one is lifted by him into the realms of spirit. He was, I think, a spiritual master, and one of the most gifted teachers who ever lived and wrote. 3 “

“The land was ours before we were the land’s.”

From The Gift Outright, by Robert Frost, spoken at President Kennedy’s Inauguration.

Development of the Poet

Frost prepared for his magnificent career, less through formal schooling and more so by reading and listening. In his letter to John Bartlett of July 4, 1913, Frost wrote:

“I alone of English writers have consciously set myself to make music out of what I may call the sound of sense. Now it is possible to have sense without the sound of sense (as in much prose that is supposed to pass muster but makes very dull reading) and the sound of sense without sense (as in Alice in Wonderland which makes anything but dull reading). The best place to get the abstract sound of sense is from voices behind a door that cuts off the words.

The sound of sense, then. You get that. It is the abstract vitality of our speech. It is pure sound–pure form. One who concerns himself with it more than the subject is an artist. But remember we are still talking merely of the raw material of poetry. An ear and an appetite for these sounds of sense is the first qualification of a writer, be it of prose or verse.”

Sign at Robert Frost Interpretive Trail

Somewhat later, Frost expanded on his way of making poetry and how it came to him.  In conversation, following publication of his first poem —

Frost at his Ripton Cabin ca 1941

“Something providential was happening to me.  I’m sure the old gentleman didn’t have the slightest idea he was having any effect on a very stubborn youngster who thought he knew what he knew.  But something he said actually changed the whole course of my writing.  It all became purposeful.

One day as we talked he said to me that when he read my poems it was just like hearing me talk. I didn’t know until then what it was I was after.  When he said that to me it all became clear.  I was after poetry that talked.  If my poems were talking poems – if to read one of them you heard a voice – that would be to my liking! … Whenever I write a line it is because that line has already been spoken clearly by a voice within my mind, an audible voice.”

With regard to form, Frost was definitive:

“Because I have been, what some might call, careless about the so-called proper beat and rhythm of my lines, there have been those who think I write free verse.  Now, I am not dead set against vers libre; but you know there is no idea you cannot express beautifully and satisfactorily in the iambic pentameter.  Much of my verse is written in this form – blank, unrimed verse.  I have always maintained that it takes form to properly perform and free verse has no form, and so its performance is meager … The greatest freedom poetry can attain is having form, a frame to work in. Free verse is batting a ball into space and wondering why it doesn’t return to the batter.  Poetry written in form is like batting a ball against the side of a wall and feeling it return to the bat. A picture frame with its four simple lines is necessary to the showing of a picture.  Try it and see.  The frame thus becomes a part, even, of the picture.” 5

Robert Frost, The Teacher

IN OUR COMPANION TEXT, Paul Dimond and Roger Mills write that Frost “studied Latin and then turned to Greek; he read the English writers and poets of the past and of his day.  He was as well read as any literature professor.  He also explored the learning and scientific theories of James, Dewey, Bohr, Einstein, and Planck, to name only a few of the many he studied and remarked on. …  [Frost] joined the faculty of Amherst College in 1917. In 1919, he wrote about his emerging philosophy of creating, writing, and learning, using a metaphor from his farming days: 6

A man who makes really good literature is like a fellow who goes into the fields to pull carrots. He keeps on pulling them patiently enough until he finds a carrot that suggests something else to him. It is not shaped like other carrots. He takes out his knife and notches it here and there, until the two pronged roots become legs and the carrot takes on something of the semblance of a man. The real genius takes hold of that bit of life which is suggestive to him and gives it form. But the man who is merely a realist, and not a genius, will leave the carrot just as he finds it. 7

Frost’s friend, G. Armour Craig, described his teaching approach: He was not a conventional member of the Amherst Faculty or of any other.  He did at first teach some more or less conventional courses in drama and poetry.  Later, he taught American literature with George Whicher. He taught philosophy with Otto Manthey-Zorn [a professor of German literature and philosophy].  He taught many courses in writing.  And late in the ‘twenties he gave a general reading course the books for which belonged to many different departments.  If one of his favorite author was Emerson, another was Darwin — he never lost his admiration for The Voyage of The Beagle. 

His favorite course, perhaps, was one that he began to give in 1923.  It was described thus in the Catalogue:

Judgment in history, religion, and the arts.  A study by the case method, of how such judgments are arrived at and evaluated.

With Robert Frost, of course, the question did not concern techniques of judgment: it concerned, rather, the elevation of ourselves, by wisdom and knowledge, to a level on which we can make such judgments responsibly and freely … for him, the fact was the sweetest dream that reason knows, and all his efforts as a talker and thinker were to push aside the encrustations that gather on the monuments of history, religion, and the arts.  He wanted to clarify each one; he wanted prowess and performance, wherever they might be found, to shine forth of themselves.

This study of human, indeed humanist, judgments was perhaps the only course he really gave.  It was certainly the course of his conversation, and it was in his conversation that he was chiefly, if not exclusively, a teacher. 8

Then there is a literary belief. Every time a poem is written, every time a short story is written, it is written not by cunning, but by belief. The beauty, the something, the little charm of the thing to be, is more felt than known… [It is] in every work of art, not of cunning and craft, mind you, but of real art; that believing the thing into existence, saying as you go more than you even hoped you were going to be able to say, and coming with surprise to an end that you foreknew only with some sort of emotion.

Now I think—I happen to think—that those three beliefs that I speak of, the self-belief, the love-belief, and the art-belief, are all closely related to the God-belief, that the belief in God is a relationship you enter into with Him to bring about the future. 9

Read the full text of Education By Poetry

Frost spoke of the artistry of poetry in a 1931 talk at Amherst College:

“Education by poetry is education by metaphor… We like to talk in parables and in hints and in indirections… Poetry provides the one permissible way of saying one thing and meaning another.

As his talked moved towards the end, his philosophy, faith and spirituality became the topic, and he concluded with his “Four Beliefs:”

The person who gets close enough to poetry, he is going to know more about the word belief than anybody else knows, even in religion nowadays. There are two or three places where we know belief outside of religion. One of them is at the age of fifteen to twenty, in our self-belief. A young man knows more about himself than he is able to prove to anyone. He has no knowledge that anybody else will accept as knowledge. In his foreknowledge he has something that is going to believe itself into fulfilment, into acceptance.

There is another belief like that, the belief in someone else, a relationship of two that is going to be believed into fulfilment. That is what we are talking about in our novels, the belief of love. And the disillusionment that the novels are full of is simply the disillusionment from disappointment in that belief. That belief can fail, of course.

Frost with Amherst Students

The preface to Frost’s 1939 compilation, The Complete Poems of Robert Frost, tells of the creation of a poem:

THE FIGURE A POEM MAKES. It begins in delight and ends in wisdom. The figure is the same as for love. No one can really hold that the ecstasy should be static and stand still in one place. It begins in delight, it inclines to the impulse, it assumes direction with the first line laid down, it runs a course of lucky events, and ends in a clarification of life-not necessarily a great clarification, such as sects and cults are founded on, but in a momentary stay against confusion. It has denouement. It has an outcome that though unforeseen was predestined from the first image of the original mood-and indeed from the very mood. It is but a trick poem and no poem at all if the best of it was thought of first and saved for the last. It finds its own name as it goes and discovers the best waiting for it in some final phrase at once wise and sad-the happy-sad blend of the drinking song.

No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader. No surprise for the writer, no surprise for the reader. For me the initial delight is in the surprise of remembering something I didn’t know I knew. I am in a place, in a situation, as if I had materialized from cloud or risen out of the ground. There is a glad recognition of the long lost and the rest follows. Step by step the wonder of unexpected supply keeps growing. The impressions most useful to my purpose seem always those I was unaware of and so made no note of at the time when taken, and the conclusion is come to that like giants we are always hurling experience ahead of us to pave the future with against the day when we may want to strike a line of purpose across it for somewhere. The line will have the more charm for not being mechanically straight. We enjoy the straight crookedness of a good walking stick. Modern instruments of precision are being used to make things crooked as if by eye and hand in the old days. 9


“Professor Dwight Salmon, the faculty advisor for our fraternity, invited his friend Robert Frost to the house. Frost came to talk with us shortly before he died. We all sat on the rug to listen to him. He wanted to answer our questions, not just talk about what was important to him. He was clear and concise in his responses; he projected strength and wisdom. It was an elevating experience.”    — Steve Drotter, Amherst 1964

“I recall Robert Frost’s answer to a question about why he was not more politically active: ‘I do good by doing well.'”–Tom Jacobs, Amherst 1964

“Then there’s the poet. I saw him twice when he was in his late 80s, reflective, grizzled but clear-headed. The first time was during a small forum discussion with Archibald MacLeish. MacLeish was a much younger poet of great renown, widely traveled and urbane. He would become Amherst’s poet after Frost died. They had a conversation more or less about their poetry, their lives, and what they had learned. I remember clearly my primary impression of that talk. MacLeish had traveled broadly and seemed to know everyone. Frost was New England. But whatever the topic, it seemed as if Frost plumbed a far greater depth. You just wanted to sit with Frost and have him share his perspective on the things that mattered in life. At nineteen, I thought he could save me a lot of time and effort if he shared what he had come to know.”  — Mark Sandler, Amherst 1964

Nature’s first green is gold — Her hardest hue to hold.

From “Nothing Gold Can Stay” — by Robert Frost

Sign "Gold" on Robert Frost Interpretive Trail

The Poet – Politician

Frost Cabin in Ripton

In later life,

“Frost moved among the mighty. He was a public personage to thousands of persons who had never read his works. But to countless others, loyal and loving to the point of idolatry, he remained not only a poet but the poet of his day.

During the first years of the Kennedy Administration, Frost was unquestionably a kind of celebrity- poet around Washington. His face was seen smiling in the background–and frequently the foreground–of news photographs from the Capitol, and quite often he appeared in public with Democratic politicians.

President Kennedy, when asked why he had requested that Frost speak at the inauguration, praised the “courage, the towering skill and daring” of his fellow New Englander. 10

See the full article in The New York Times 

In 1962, Frost accompanied Stewart Udall, Secretary of the Interior, on a visit to the Soviet Union. Despite not feeling well, Frost agreed to “make the trip if the President wanted him to go.”  As Udall reflected in his 1972 article, “Robert Frost’s Last Adventure,”

Frost went because he felt he could make a contribution to peace if given the opportunity to talk man to man with Khrushchev. His determination was fierce. Several times during the long flight to Moscow he asked the piercing question, “Will we get to see him?” I was dismayed that he had his heart set on “the big conversation,” and when I told him the odds were heavily against either of us seeing the Soviet leader, he became downcast. Later his frustration deepened, and in the middle of a listless poetry reading in Moscow, he growled at Franklin Reeve, his American interpreter, “What the hell am I going to do here anyway if I don’t get to see Khrushchev?” Frost took pride in his ability to put himself in anther man’s shoes, and it was obvious he had not only gone to great lengths to understand Khrushchev’s situation, but in the process he had also developed a perspective of cold-war competition that was generous in its estimate of the potential of Soviet society. This was not a difficult exercise for Frost. In 1959, when some students asked him about Boris Pasternak’s troubles with the Soviet hierarchy, he replied sharply, “Pasternak is a brave man. He wants to be a Russian and we’re going to get him killed if we keep trying to use him against Russia.” And at a press conference much later he made this sympathetic observation about chairman Khrushchev: “Think of his fears — of us in front of him, of what’s around him, of the Politburo behind him.”

Now, however, it was not fears, but hopes, which Frost wanted to explore. As he surveyed the sweep of history, Frost became convinced that human survival depended on the gradual social and political convergence of the two systems. In the acceptance letter he wrote to President Kennedy about his Russian trip, he said he would be “reporting and prophesying,” and he outlined his convergence concept in these words: “I have thought I saw the Russian and American democracies drawing together, theirs easing down from a kind of abstract severity to taking less and less care of the masses; ours creeping up to taking more and more of care of the masses as they grow innumerable.”

Frost told me that he was prepared to say this, and more, “straight out” to Khrushchev, that he wanted to tell the Russian leader “to his face” that he considered him a courageous leader and admired his humanizing reforms. He had prepared his appeal with the care and craft he gave to the writing of poetry, and I could see he was ready to speak as an emissary of mankind, not only for the people of the United States. He recalled that Aristotle had summed up the Greek experience by concluding that great nations at the pinnacle of power prevail only when they behave greatly. Frost wanted passionately to discuss with Khrushchev a hundred years of grand rivalry based on an Aristotelian code of conduct he called “mutual magnanimity.” Frost loathed Khrushchev’s “coexistence” slogan, but it was clear he planned to conceal his distaste for it as he presented his own plan. To him “coexistence” implied a sterile, negative view of the human prospect, as against the kind of context for excellence that he thought might serve as more equivalent for war and poisonous propaganda.

Frost and Udall each did meet with Khrushchev. Unbeknownst to them, and as Udall later surmised, the Soviets were preparing missile launching sites in Cuba, and “Khrushchev needed to send [Kennedy] tidings of his sanity, to prove he was still in charge.” He wanted to keep Washington guessing, by being alternately peaceful and tough.

Frost spoke his concerns to Khrushchev: the two nations should engage in a “noble rivalry” in sports, science, art and democracy; they should have a code of conduct; and the leaders should be high-minded, encouraging contests for excellence. “Leaders had a moral duty not only to steer clear of senseless wars but also to create a climate hospitable to wide-ranging contact and competition. If there was restraint, if the limits of national power were recognized, both sides would soon realize that ‘petty squabbles and blackguarding propaganda’ had to be avoided. As Frost put it, ’Great nations admire each other and don’t take pleasure in belittling each other.’” 11

Robert Frost spoke briefly about his Russian trip at an Amherst event on September 28, 1962.  In typical fashion, Frost was both direct – and perhaps more so indirect:

‘I  thought I might tell you just what I did say in Russia.  I said it right and left but I said it in the Crimea principally – to one of the Crimeans…”God, who you know exists but don’t believe in, don’t take any stock in, seems to have set the stage, or set the arena, for the rivalry of us two great nations, for the next hundred years.” He agreed to that, didn’t dissent, and then I said, “Beginning in the rivalry of sports – trying to beat each other there, then going on up into literature, art, beat each other.”  I used the word “beat” all the time.  “And then on up into science.”  He stopped me there to say, “You realize we’ve beaten you in electro-magnetism now … You should be proud of that because we learned it from you.”  Very nice he was.  And then I said, “And finally, clear up at the top, is our democracy versus your democracy, so to call it.  And it will be settled some day or other between us, which is better, which is the right one for the world of governing.”  … I didn’t say anything about peace or love or coexistence or war or bomb… ‘ (footnote)

Frost wanted the rivalry  to be on a high level, about great issues such as the “two kinds of democracy,” and the Crimean agreed.  And, Frost wanted to state publicly what he had spoken about to the Soviets, rather than leave the telling of that historical visit to the newspaper reports that he had seen. 13

Frost’s Death and Remembrances

He had promises to keep … 

Robert Frost died in January, 1963, only months after his historic visit to the Soviet Union and meeting with Premier Nikita Khrushchev.  The White House announced:

The death of Robert Frost leaves a vacancy in the American spirit. He was the great American poet of our time.  His art and his life summed up the essential qualities of theNew England he loved so much: the fresh delight in nature, the plainness of speech, the canny wisdom, and the deep, underlying insight into the human soul.  His death impoverishes us all, but he has bequeathed his Nation a body of imperishable verse from which Americans will forever gain joy and understanding.  He had promises to keep, and miles to go, and now he sleeps. 12

On October 26, 1963, the Amherst community gathered to welcome President Kennedy who had come to celebrate the Groundbreaking of the Robert Frost Library.


Frost had died that January. Both the President and the poet, Archibald MacLeish were to receive honorary doctorates. The following tribute to Robert Frost is excerpted from MacLeish’s Convocation Address:

There is an old Gaelic tale of the West Highlands called “The Brown Bear of The Green Glen” which has a whiskey bottle in it so definitively full that not a drop can be added, and so fabulously copious that nothing is lost, no matter how you drink it. Frost’s fame is like that bottle: it can’t be added to because it is full already, and it won’t draw down however it is drunk… 

Archibald MacLeish and Robert Frost

No one in my time upon this planet was so pursued by fame as Frost – so “publicized” in the specific sense and meaning of that word. But even now, months after his death, the “public image,” as the industry would call it, has already begun to change like the elms in autumn, leaving enormous branches black and clean against the sky.

Frost too, it seems, but in a different way, an opposite way, is “too intrinsic for renown” – too intrinsic for renown to touch. Something in the fame resists the flame as burning maple logs – rock maple anyway – resist the blaze. And what it is, I think we know. At least there is an evening, not many years ago or many blocks from here – an evening others in this room remember – which might tell us. It was his eightieth birthday. Frost had been in New York where every possible honor, including some not possible, had been paid him, and, returning here to Amherst and his friends, he fell to talking of what honor really was, or would be: to leave behind him, as he put it, “a few poems it would be hard to get rid of.” It sounds like a modest wish but Frost knew, as his friends knew, that it wasn’t. Poems are not monuments – shapes of stone to stand and stand. Poems are speaking voices. And a poem that is hard to get rid of is a voice that is hard to get rid of. And a voice that is hard to get rid of is a man. What Frost wanted for himself in the midst of all that praise was what Keats had wanted for himself in the midst of no praise at all: to be among the English poets at his death – the poets of the English tongue. ..It wasn’t reputation he was thinking of that wintry evening: it was something else. To be among the English poets is to be – to go on being. Frost wanted to go on being. And he has. 13 

See the full text of MacLeish’s Convocation Address 

Frost Statue at Amherst

Robert Frost was a member of the Amherst College faculty for more than 40 years, he taught at the liberal arts college on and off beginning in 1917 and until his death in 1063.  Amherst remembered Frost in many ways, most visibly in the Frost Library and in the gift by the Amherst Class of 1957 of a large sculpture.  The sculpture

“Recognize[s] the importance of teaching at Amherst. Robert Frost taught generations of Amherst students over the course of four decades, and we concluded that a sculpture of Frost, looking across the Main Quadrangle toward the Frost Library, would be a fitting way to symbolize the significance of teaching at the college and the gratitude of alumni to their professors…

Generations of Amherst alumni remember taking classes with Robert Frost. He first lectured at the college in 1916, and served on the faculty from 1917 to 1920, 1923 to 1925, 1926 to 1938, and 1949 to 1963. He received his first-ever honorary degree—an M.A.—from Amherst in 1918; the college awarded him an honorary Litt.D. degree in 1948. During his tenure at Amherst, Frost taught courses in topics including composition, American literature and English literature. He also held public readings, conducted informal classes and readings with students, and worked individually with students and faculty.”  14

See the full article.

“Every artist must have two fears — the fear of God and the fear of man – fear of God that his creation will ultimately be found unworthy and the fear of man that he will be misunderstood by his fellow.”

– Robert Frost speaking to an audience of young writers at Bread Loaf Writer’s Conference in Vermont 15

Frost with Bread Loaf Students


Robert Frost, The Letters of Robert Frost to Louis Untermeyer. Holt Rinehart, 1963.

2 Jay Parini, Interview in Ripton, Vermont, October 30, 2017. Courtesy of Northern Light Productions.

3 Jay Parini, “Robert Frost and the Nature of New England”, JFK: The Last Speech, Mascot Books, 2018.

4 Robert Frost, Donald Sheehy, Mark Richardson and Robert Faggen, The Letters of Robert Frost Volume I 1886-1921.The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2014.

5 Peter J. Stanlis. Robert Frost — The Poet as Philosopher. ISI Books, Wilmington, Delaware. 2007. xiii – xv.  Material first appeared in Louis Mertins, Robert Frost: Life and Talks-Walking, 1965 pp 197-98.

6 Paul Dimond and Roger Mills, “Robert Frost, The Poet As Educator,” JFK: The Last Speech. Mascot Books, 2018.  The writings of Dimond and Mills in the referenced text have broadly influenced the development of this Frost Page.

7 Robert Frost. Remarks on Form in Poetry. In: Mark Richardson, ed. The Collected Prose of Robert Frost. The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press. Cambridge. (First Harvard University Press paperback edition, p. 79).

8 G. Armour Craig, “Robert Frost at Amherst,” In Other Words – Amherst in Prose and Verse. Amherst College Press, Amherst, Massachsette, 1964
This description of Robert Frost was given by his friend, G. Armour Craig,  in remarks to Amherst’s Society of the Alumni in June 1963.  Craig was Frost’s host, sponsor and agent at Amherst College.

9 “Education by Poetry,” Amherst Graduates Quarterly, February 1931.

10 Robert Frost. “The Figure a Poem Makes,” Complete Poems of Robert Frost. Holt, Rinehart and Winston (New York, 1939).

11 “Robert Frost Dies at 88; Kennedy Leads in Tribute,” Special to The New York Times. January 30, 1963.  See:

12 Stewart L. Udall, “Robert Frost’s Last Adventure,” The New York Times. June 11, 1972.  See:

13 Robert Frost, “Playing for Mortal Stakes” In Other Words — Amherst in Prose and Verse, Amherst College Press, Amherst Massachusetts, 1964.

14 Papers of John F. Kennedy, Presidential Papers. President’s Office Files. Speech Files. Statement on Robert Frost’s death, 29 January 1963. JFKPOF-42-032

15 Archibald MacLeish, “Frost and Stone” – The Convocation Address, Amherst Alumni Quarterly, Fall 1963


17 Frost quote, “Every artist ..,” Robert Frost Dies at 88; Kennedy Leads in Tribute,” Special to The New York Times. January 30, 1963.  See:

Photo Credits:

Robert Frost, Photo by Yousuf Karsh:  Copyright Yousuf Karsh; with permission of the Robert Frost Estate

Jay Parini, Frost Biographer:  Courtesy of Northern Light Productions, JFK: The Last Speech

Sign at Robert Frost Interpretive Trail: Judy Bicknell photo

Frost at his Ripton Cabin ca 1941: Courtesy of Dartmouth College Library, used with the permission of the Estate of Robert Frost

Frost with Amherst Students: Courtesy of Amherst College Archives and Special Collections, Amherst College Library with the permission of the Estate of Robert Frost

Sign “Gold” on Robert Frost Interpretive Trail: Judy Bicknell photo

Frost Cabin in Ripton:  Neil Bicknell photo

Frost Statue at Amherst: Neil Bicknell photo

Archibald MacLeish and Robert Frost:  Courtesy of Amherst College Archives and Special Collections, Amherst College Library with the permission of the Estate of Robert Frost !!!!(check this)

Frost with Bread Loaf Students: Courtesy of Dartmouth College Library, used with the permission of the Estate of Robert Frost.


In addition to the publications footnoted above, reference has been made to the following:

Robert Frost, Donald Sheehy, Mark Richardson, Robert Bernard Hass and Henry Atmore,  The Letters of Robert Frost Volume II 1920-1928. The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2016.

Jay Parini, Robert Frost A Life.  Henry Holt and Company, 1999.

Mark Richardson, The Collected Prose of Robert Frost. The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2007.