Robert Frost Quote

Most of the change we think we see in life is due to truths being in and out of favor.

Robert Frost

Most of the change we think we see in life is due to truths being in and out of favor.

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About Robert Frost

Robert Lee Frost (March 26, 1874 – January 29, 1963) was an American poet. Known for his realistic depictions of rural life and his command of American colloquial speech, Frost frequently wrote about settings from rural life in New England in the early 20th century, using them to examine complex social and philosophical themes.
Frequently honored during his lifetime, Frost is the only poet to receive four Pulitzer Prizes for Poetry. He became one of America's rare "public literary figures, almost an artistic institution". Frost was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal in 1960 and in 1961 was named poet laureate of Vermont. Randall Jarrell wrote: "Robert Frost, along with Stevens and Eliot, seems to me the greatest of the American poets of this century. Frost's virtues are extraordinary. No other living poet has written so well about the actions of ordinary men; his wonderful dramatic monologues or dramatic scenes come out of a knowledge of people that few poets have had, and they are written in a verse that uses, sometimes with absolute mastery, the rhythms of actual speech". In his 1939 essay "The Figure a Poem Makes", Frost explains his poetics: "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...[Poetry] must be a revelation, or a series of revelations, for the poet as for the reader. For it to be that there must have been the greatest freedom of the material to move about in it and to establish relations in it regardless of time and space, previous relation, and everything but affinity."

Robert Frost was born in San Francisco to journalist William Prescott Frost Jr. and Isabelle Moodie. His father was a descendant of Nicholas Frost of Tiverton, Devon, England, who had sailed to New Hampshire in 1634 on the Wolfrana, and his mother was a Scottish immigrant.
Frost was also a descendant of Samuel Appleton, one of the early English settlers of Ipswich, Massachusetts, and Rev. George Phillips, one of the early English settlers of Watertown, Massachusetts.
Frost's father was a teacher and later an editor of the San Francisco Evening Bulletin (which later merged with the San Francisco Examiner), and an unsuccessful candidate for city tax collector. After his death on May 5, 1885, the family moved across the country to Lawrence, Massachusetts, under the patronage of Robert's grandfather William Frost Sr., who was an overseer at a New England mill. Frost graduated from Lawrence High School in 1892, where he published his first poem in the high school magazine, served as class poet and, with his future wife Elinor White, was co-valedictorian. Frost's mother joined the Swedenborgian church and had him baptized in it, but he left it as an adult.
Although known for his later association with rural life, Frost grew up in the city. He attended Dartmouth College for two months, long enough to be accepted into the Theta Delta Chi fraternity. Frost returned home to teach and to work at various jobs, helping his mother teach her class of unruly boys, delivering newspapers and working in a factory maintaining carbon arc lamps. He said that he did not enjoy these jobs, feeling that his true calling was to write poetry.

In 1894, he sold his first poem, "My Butterfly. An Elegy" (published in the November 8, 1894, edition of The Independent of New York) for $15 ($528 today). Proud of his accomplishment, he proposed marriage to Elinor Miriam White, but she demurred, wanting to finish college at St. Lawrence University before they married. Frost then went on an excursion to the Great Dismal Swamp in Virginia and asked Elinor again upon his return. Having graduated, she agreed, and they were married in Lawrence, Massachusetts, on December 19, 1895.
Frost attended Harvard University from 1897 to 1899, but he left voluntarily due to illness. Shortly before his death, Frost's grandfather purchased a farm for Robert and Elinor in Derry, New Hampshire; Frost worked the farm for nine years while writing early in the mornings and producing many of the poems that would later become famous. Ultimately his farming proved unsuccessful and he returned to the field of education as an English teacher at New Hampshire's Pinkerton Academy from 1906 to 1911, then at the New Hampshire Normal School (now Plymouth State University) in Plymouth, New Hampshire.
In 1912, Frost sailed with his family to Great Britain, settling first in Beaconsfield, a small town in Buckinghamshire outside London. His first book of poetry, A Boy's Will, was published the next year. In England he made some important acquaintances, including Edward Thomas (a member of the group known as the Dymock poets and Frost's inspiration for "The Road Not Taken"), T. E. Hulme and Ezra Pound. Although Pound would become the first American to write a favorable review of Frost's work, Frost later resented Pound's attempts to manipulate his American prosody. Frost met or befriended many contemporary poets in England, especially after his first two poetry volumes were published in London in 1913 (A Boy's Will) and 1914 (North of Boston).
In 1915, during World War I, Frost returned to America, where Holt's American edition of A Boy's Will had recently been published, and bought a farm in Franconia, New Hampshire, where he launched a career of writing, teaching and lecturing. This family homestead served as the Frosts' summer home until 1938. It is maintained today as The Frost Place, a museum and poetry conference site. He was made an honorary member of Phi Beta Kappa at Harvard in 1916. During the years 1917–20, 1923–25, and, on a more informal basis, 1926–1938, Frost taught English at Amherst College in Massachusetts, notably encouraging his students to account for the myriad sounds and intonations of the spoken English language in their writing. He called his colloquial approach to language "the sound of sense".
He won the first of four Pulitzer Prizes for New Hampshire: A Poem with Notes and Grace Notes (1923). He would win Pulitzers for Collected Poems (1930), A Further Range (1936) and A Witness Tree (1942).
From 1921 to 1962, Frost spent almost every summer and fall teaching at the Bread Loaf School of English of Middlebury College, at its mountain campus at Ripton, Vermont. He is credited with being a major influence upon the development of the school and its writing programs. The college now owns and maintains his former Ripton farmstead, a National Historic Landmark, near the Bread Loaf campus. In 1921, Frost accepted a fellowship teaching post at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, where he resided until 1927, when he returned to teach at Amherst. While teaching at the University of Michigan, he was awarded a lifetime appointment at the university as a Fellow in Letters. The Robert Frost Ann Arbor home was purchased by The Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan and relocated to the museum's Greenfield Village site for public tours. Throughout the 1920s, Frost also lived in his colonial-era house in Shaftsbury, Vermont. In 2002, the house was opened to the public as the Robert Frost Stone House Museum and was given to Bennington College in 2017.
In 1934, Frost began to spend winter months in Florida. In March 1935, he gave a talk at the University of Miami. In 1940, he bought a 5-acre (2.0 ha) plot in South Miami, Florida, naming it Pencil Pines; he spent his winters there for the rest of his life. In her memoir about Frost's time in Florida, Helen Muir writes, "Frost had called his five acres Pencil Pines because he said he had never made a penny from anything that did not involve the use of a pencil." His properties also included a house on Brewster Street in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Frost was 86 when he performed a reading at the inauguration of John F. Kennedy on January 20, 1961. He began by attempting to read his poem "Dedication", which he had composed for the occasion, but due to the brightness of the sunlight he was unable to see the text, so he recited "The Gift Outright" from memory instead. In the summer of 1962, Frost accompanied Interior Secretary Stewart Udall on a visit to the Soviet Union in hopes of meeting Nikita Khrushchev to lobby for peaceful relations between the two Cold War powers.
Frost died in Boston on January 29, 1963, of complications from prostate surgery. He was buried in the Old Bennington Cemetery in Bennington, Vermont. His epitaph, from the last line of his poem "The Lesson for Today" (1942), is: "I had a lover's quarrel with the world."

Frost's personal life was plagued by grief and loss. In 1885, when he was 11, his father died of tuberculosis, leaving the family with just eight dollars. Frost's mother died of cancer in 1900. In 1920, he had to commit his younger sister Jeanie to a mental hospital, where she died nine years later. Mental illness apparently ran in Frost's family, as both he and his mother suffered from depression, and his daughter Irma was committed to a mental hospital in 1947. Frost's wife, Elinor, also experienced bouts of depression.
Elinor and Robert Frost had six children: son Elliott (1896–1900, died of cholera); daughter Lesley Frost Ballantine (1899–1983); son Carol (1902–1940); daughter Irma (1903–1967); daughter Marjorie (1905–1934, died as a result of puerperal fever after childbirth); and daughter Elinor Bettina (died just one day after her birth in 1907). Only Lesley and Irma outlived their father. Frost's wife, who had heart problems throughout her life, developed breast cancer in 1937 and died of heart failure in 1938.

Critic Harold Bloom argued that Frost was one of "the major American poets".
Randall Jarrell's influential essays on Frost include "Robert Frost's 'Home Burial'" (1962), an extended close reading of that particular poem, and "To The Laodiceans", (1952) in which Jarrell defended Frost against critics who had accused Frost of being too "traditional" and out of touch with Modern or Modernist poetry. Jarrell wrote "the regular ways of looking at Frost's poetry are grotesque simplifications, distortions, falsifications—coming to know his poetry well ought to be enough, in itself, to dispel any of them, and to make plain the necessity of finding some other way of talking about his work." Jarrell's close readings of poems like "Neither Out Too Far Nor In Too Deep" led readers and critics to perceive more of the complexities in Frost's poetry.

Brad Leithauser notes that "the 'other' Frost that Jarrell discerned behind the genial, homespun New England rustic—the 'dark' Frost who was desperate, frightened, and brave—has become the Frost we've all learned to recognize, and the little-known poems Jarrell singled out as central to the Frost canon are now to be found in most anthologies". Jarrell lists a selection of the Frost poems he considers the most masterful, including "The Witch of Coös", "Home Burial", "A Servant to Servants", "Directive", "Neither Out Too Far Nor In Too Deep", "Provide, Provide", "Acquainted with the Night", "After Apple Picking", "Mending Wall", "The Most of It", "An Old Man's Winter Night", "To Earthward", "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening", "Spring Pools", "The Lovely Shall Be Choosers", "Design" and "Desert Places".

In 2003, the critic Charles McGrath noted that critical views on Frost's poetry have changed over the years (as has his public image). In "The Vicissitudes of Literary Reputation," McGrath wrote, "Robert Frost ... at the time of his death in 1963 was generally considered to be a New England folkie ... In 1977, the third volume of Lawrance Thompson's biography suggested that Frost was a much nastier piece of work than anyone had imagined; a few years later, thanks to the reappraisal of critics like William H. Pritchard and Harold Bloom and of younger poets like Joseph Brodsky, he bounced back again, this time as a bleak and unforgiving modernist."
In The Norton Anthology of Modern Poetry, editors Richard Ellmann and Robert O'Clair compared and contrasted Frost's unique style to the work of the poet Edwin Arlington Robinson since they both frequently used New England settings for their poems. However, they state that Frost's poetry was "less [consciously] literary" and that this was possibly due to the influence of English and Irish writers like Thomas Hardy and W. B. Yeats. They note that Frost's poems "show a successful striving for utter colloquialism" and always try to remain down to earth, while at the same time using traditional forms, despite the trend of American poetry towards free verse, which Frost famously said was "'like playing tennis without a net.'"
The Poetry Foundation makes the same point, placing Frost's work "at the crossroads of nineteenth-century American poetry [with regard to his use of traditional forms] and modernism [with his use of idiomatic language and ordinary, everyday subject matter]." They also note that Frost believed that "the self-imposed restrictions of meter in form" was more helpful than harmful because he could focus on the content of his poems instead of concerning himself with creating "innovative" new verse forms.
An earlier study by the poet James Radcliffe Squires spoke to the distinction of Frost as a poet whose verse soars more for the difficulty and skill by which he attains his final visions, than for the philosophical purity of the visions themselves. "He has written at a time when the choice for the poet seemed to lie among the forms of despair: Science, solipsism, or the religion of the past century ... Frost has refused all of these and in the refusal has long seemed less dramatically committed than others ... But no, he must be seen as dramatically uncommitted to the single solution ... Insofar as Frost allows to both fact and intuition a bright kingdom, he speaks for many of us. Insofar as he speaks through an amalgam of senses and sure experience so that his poetry seems a nostalgic memory with overtones touching some conceivable future, he speaks better than most of us. That is to say, as a poet must."
The classicist Helen H. Bacon has proposed that Frost's deep knowledge of Greek and Roman classics influenced much of his work. Frost's education at Lawrence High School, Dartmouth, and Harvard "was based mainly on the classics". As examples, she links imagery and action in Frost's early poems "Birches" (1915) and "Wild Grapes" (1920) with Euripides' Bacchae. She cites certain motifs, including that of the tree bent down to earth, as evidence of his "very attentive reading of Bacchae, almost certainly in Greek". Bacon compares the poetic techniques used by Frost in "One More Brevity" (1953) to those of Virgil in the Aeneid. She notes that "this sampling of the ways Frost drew on the literature and concepts of the Greek and Roman world at every stage of his life indicates how imbued with it he was".

In Contemporary Literary Criticism, the editors state that "Frost's best work explores fundamental questions of existence, depicting with chilling starkness the loneliness of the individual in an indifferent universe." The critic T. K. Whipple focused on this bleakness in Frost's work, stating that "in much of his work, particularly in North of Boston, his harshest book, he emphasizes the dark background of life in rural New England, with its degeneration often sinking into total madness."
In sharp contrast, the founding publisher and editor of Poetry, Harriet Monroe, emphasized the folksy New England persona and characters in Frost's work, writing that "perhaps no other poet in our history has put the best of the Yankee spirit into a book so completely." She notes his frequent use of rural settings and farm life, and she likes that in these poems, Frost is most interested in "showing the human reaction to nature's processes." She also notes that while Frost's narrative, character-based poems are often satirical, Frost always has a "sympathetic humor" towards his subjects.

Robert Graves
Rupert Brooke
Thomas Hardy
William Butler Yeats
John Keats
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Robert Francis
Seamus Heaney
Richard Wilbur
Edward Thomas
James Wright

Frost was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature 31 times.
Harvard's 1965 alumni directory notes that Frost received an honorary degree there. Although he never graduated from college, Frost received over 40 honorary degrees, including from Princeton, Oxford and Cambridge universities, and became the only person to have received two honorary degrees from Dartmouth College. During his lifetime, the Robert Frost Middle School in Fairfax, Virginia, the Robert L. Frost School in Lawrence, Massachusetts, and the main library of Amherst College were named after him.
In 1960, Frost was awarded a United States Congressional Gold Medal, "In recognition of his poetry, which has enriched the culture of the United States and the philosophy of the world"; it was formally bestowed on him by John F. Kennedy in March 1962. Also in 1962, he was awarded the Edward MacDowell Medal for outstanding contribution to the arts by the MacDowell Colony.
In June 1922, the Vermont State League of Women's Clubs elected Frost as Poet Laureate of Vermont. When a New York Times editorial strongly criticized the decision of the Women's Clubs, Sarah Cleghorn and other women wrote to the newspaper defending Frost. Frost was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1931 and the American Philosophical Society in 1937. On July 22, 1961, Frost was named Poet Laureate of Vermont by the state legislature through Joint Resolution R-59 of the Acts of 1961, which also created the position. Frost won the 1963 Bollingen Prize.

1924 for New Hampshire: A Poem With Notes and Grace Notes
1931 for Collected Poems
1937 for A Further Range
1943 for A Witness Tree

Robert Frost Hall is an academic building at Southern New Hampshire University in Manchester, New Hampshire.
In the early morning of November 23, 1963, Westinghouse Broadcasting's Sid Davis reported the arrival of President John F. Kennedy's casket at the White House. Since Frost was one of the President's favorite poets, Davis concluded his report with a passage from "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening", but was overcome with emotion as he signed off.
Jawaharlal Nehru (1889–1964), the first Prime Minister of India, had kept a book of Robert Frost's close to him towards his later years, even at his bedside table as he lay dying.
The poem "Nothing Gold Can Stay" is featured in both the 1967 novel The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton and the 1983 film adaptation, first recited aloud by the character Ponyboy to his friend Johnny. In a subsequent scene Johnny quotes a stanza from the poem back to Ponyboy by means of a letter which was read after he passes away.
His poem "Fire and Ice" influenced the title and other aspects of George R. R. Martin's fantasy series A Song of Ice and Fire.
Nothing Gold Can Stay is the name of the debut studio album by American pop-punk band New Found Glory, released on October 19, 1999.
At the funeral of former Canadian prime minister Pierre Trudeau, on October 3, 2000, his eldest son Justin rephrased the last stanza of the poem "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening" in his eulogy: "The woods are lovely, dark and deep. He has kept his promises and earned his sleep."
A Garfield comic strip published on October 20, 2002, originally featured the titular character reciting "Nothing Gold Can Stay". However, this was replaced in book collections and online edition, likely due to the poem being still under copyright when the comic ran (the poem has since lapsed into public domain, in 2019).
The poem "Fire and Ice" is the epigraph of Stephenie Meyer's 2007 book, Eclipse, of the Twilight Saga. It is also read by Kristen Stewart's character, Bella Swan, at the beginning of the 2010 Eclipse film.
"Nothing Gold Can Stay" is referenced in First Aid Kit's 2014 album Stay Gold: "But just as the moon it shall stray / So dawn goes down today / No gold can stay / No gold can stay."
"Nothing Gold Can Stay" (February 4, 2015) is the title given to the tenth episode of the seventh season of The Mentalist in which a character is killed.
The character of Baron Quinn recites "Fire and Ice" in an episode of AMC's Into the Badlands.
Verses of "Fire and Ice" are referenced and recited throughout the 2017 episodic video game Life Is Strange: Before the Storm.
The line "Nothing gold can stay" is featured in the 2018 single "Venice Bitch" by American singer Lana Del Rey. Del Rey also previously used this line in her 2015 single "Music to Watch Boys To".
One of the original collections of Frost materials, which he personally helped compile, is held in the Special Collections department of the Jones Library in Amherst, Massachusetts. The collection consists of approximately twelve thousand items, including original manuscript poems and letters, correspondence, photographs, and audio and visual recordings. The Archives and Special Collections at Amherst College holds a small collection of his papers. The University of Michigan Library holds the Robert Frost Family Collection of manuscripts, photographs, printed items, and artwork. The most significant collection of Frost's working manuscripts is held by Dartmouth.

1913. A Boy's Will. London: David Nutt (New York: Holt, 1915)
1914. North of Boston. London: David Nutt (New York: Holt, 1914)
"After Apple-Picking"
"The Death of the Hired Man"
"Mending Wall"
1916. Mountain Interval. New York: Holt
"Birches"
"Out, Out"
"The Oven Bird"
"The Road Not Taken"
1923. Selected Poems. New York: Holt.
"The Runaway"
Also includes poems from first three volumes
1923. New Hampshire. New York: Holt (London: Grant Richards, 1924)
"Fire and Ice"
"Nothing Gold Can Stay"
"Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening"
1924. Several Short Poems. New York: Holt
1928. Selected Poems. New York: Holt.
1928. West-Running Brook. New York: Holt
"Acquainted with the Night"
1929. The Lovely Shall Be Choosers, The Poetry Quartos, printed and illustrated by Paul Johnston. Random House.
1930. Collected Poems of Robert Frost. New York: Holt (UK: Longmans Green, 1930)
1933. The Lone Striker. US: Knopf
1934. Selected Poems: Third Edition. New York: Holt
1935. Three Poems. Hanover, NH: Baker Library, Dartmouth College.
1935. The Gold Hesperidee. Bibliophile Press.
1936. From Snow to Snow. New York: Holt.
1936. A Further Range. New York: Holt (Cape, 1937)
1939. Collected Poems of Robert Frost. New York: Holt (UK: Longmans, Green, 1939)
1942. A Witness Tree. New York: Holt (Cape, 1943)
"The Gift Outright"
"A Question"
"The Silken Tent"
1943. Come In, and Other Poems. New York: Holt.
1947. Steeple Bush. New York: Holt
1949. Complete Poems of Robert Frost. New York: Holt (Cape, 1951)
1951. Hard Not To Be King. House of Books.
1954. Aforesaid. New York: Holt.
1959. A Remembrance Collection of New Poems. New York: Holt.
1959. You Come Too. New York: Holt (UK: Bodley Head, 1964)
1962. In the Clearing. New York: Holt Rinehart & Winston
1969. The Poetry of Robert Frost. New York: Holt Rinehart & Winston.

1929. A Way Out: A One Act Play (Harbor Press).
1929. The Cow's in the Corn: A One Act Irish Play in Rhyme (Slide Mountain Press).
1945. A Masque of Reason (Holt).
1947. A Masque of Mercy (Holt).

1963. The Letters of Robert Frost to Louis Untermeyer (Holt, Rinehart & Winston; Cape, 1964).
1963. Robert Frost and John Bartlett: The Record of a Friendship, by Margaret Bartlett Anderson (Holt, Rinehart & Winston).
1964. Selected Letters of Robert Frost (Holt, Rinehart & Winston).
1972. Family Letters of Robert and Elinor Frost (State University of New York Press).
1981. Robert Frost and Sidney Cox: Forty Years of Friendship (University Press of New England).
2014. The Letters of Robert Frost, Volume 1, 1886–1920, edited by Donald Sheehy, Mark Richardson, and Robert Faggen. Belknap Press. ISBN 978-0674057609. (811 pages; first volume, of five, of the scholarly edition of the poet's correspondence, including many previously unpublished letters.)
2016. The Letters of Robert Frost, Volume 2, 1920–1928, edited by Donald Sheehy, Mark Richardson, Robert Bernard Hass, and Henry Atmore. Belknap Press. ISBN 978-0674726642. (848 pages; second volume of the series.)

1957. Robert Frost Reads His Poetry. Caedmon Records, TC1060. (spoken word)
1966. Interviews with Robert Frost (Holt, Rinehart & Winston; Cape, 1967).
1995. Collected Poems, Prose and Plays, edited by Richard Poirier. Library of America. ISBN 978-1-883011-06-2. (omnibus volume.)
2007. The Notebooks of Robert Frost, edited by Robert Faggen. Harvard University Press.

List of poems by Robert Frost
Frostiana
New Hampshire Historical Marker No. 126: Robert Frost 1874–1963

Pritchard, William H. (2000). "Frost's Life and Career". Archived from the original on December 16, 2008. Retrieved March 18, 2001.
Taylor, Welford Dunaway (1996). Robert Frost and J. J. Lankes: Riders on Pegasus. Hanover, New Hampshire: Dartmouth College Library. OCLC 1036107807.
"Vandalized Frost house drew a crowd". Burlington Free Press, January 8, 2008.
Robert Frost (1995). Collected Poems, Prose, & Plays. Edited by Richard Poirier and Mark Richardson. Library of America. ISBN 1-883011-06-X (trade paperback).
Robert Frost Biographical Information

Robert Frost: Profile, Poems, Essays at Poets.org
Robert Frost, profile and poems at the Poetry Foundation
Profile (Archived 2022-07-02 at the Wayback Machine) at Modern American Poetry
Richard Poirier (Summer–Fall 1960). "Robert Frost, The Art of Poetry No. 2". The Paris Review. Summer-Fall 1960 (24).
Robert Frost Collection Archived 2011-10-28 at the Wayback Machine and Lawrence H. Conrad Collection of Vachel Lindsay and Robert Frost Material in Archives and Special Collections, Amherst College, Amherst, MA
Robert Frost at Bread Loaf (Middlebury College). Archived 2006-05-08 at the Wayback Machine.
Robert Frost Farm in Derry, NH
The Frost Place Archived 2012-06-14 at the Wayback Machine – a museum and poetry conference center in Franconia, N.H.
Yale College Lecture on Robert Frost – audio, video and full transcripts of Open Yale Courses
Robert Frost Declares Himself a "Balfour Israelite" and Discusses His Trip to the Western Wall
Drawing of Robert Frost by Wilfred Byron Shaw at University of Michigan Museum of Art

Robert Frost Collection in Special Collections, Jones Library, Amherst, MA
Robert Frost book collection and Robert Frost papers at the University of Maryland Libraries
The Victor E. Reichert Robert Frost Collection from the University at Buffalo Libraries Poetry Collection
Robert Frost Collection at Dartmouth College Library

Works by Robert Frost in eBook form at Standard Ebooks
Works by Robert Frost at Project Gutenberg
Works by Robert Frost at Faded Page (Canada)
Works by or about Robert Frost at Internet Archive
Robert Frost reading his poems at Harper Audio (recordings from 1956)
Works by Robert Frost at LibriVox (public domain audiobooks)