Robert Frost's Poems

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Overview

A proven bestseller time and time again, Robert Frost's Poems contains all of Robert Frost's best-known poems-and dozens more-in a portable anthology. Here are "Birches," "Mending Wall," "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening," "Two Tramps at Mudtime," "Choose Something Like a Star," and "The Gift Outright," which Frost read at the inauguration of John F. Kennedy." An essential addition to every home library, Robert Frost's Poems is a celebration of the New England countryside, Frost's appreciation of common folk,...

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Overview

A proven bestseller time and time again, Robert Frost's Poems contains all of Robert Frost's best-known poems-and dozens more-in a portable anthology. Here are "Birches," "Mending Wall," "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening," "Two Tramps at Mudtime," "Choose Something Like a Star," and "The Gift Outright," which Frost read at the inauguration of John F. Kennedy." An essential addition to every home library, Robert Frost's Poems is a celebration of the New England countryside, Frost's appreciation of common folk, and his wonderful understanding of the human condition. These classic verses touch our hearts and leave behind a lasting impression.

* Over 100 poems

* All Frost's best known verses from throughout his life

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Frost was the first American poet who could honestly be reckoned a master-poet by world standards."—Robert Graves
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780312983321
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 3/28/2002
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 288
  • Sales rank: 125,652
  • Product dimensions: 4.22 (w) x 6.68 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Robert Frost (1874-1963) is widely regarded as one of America's finest poets. He was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry on four different occasions, and also served as Consultant in Poetry at the Library of Congress.

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Table of Contents

I. AN INTRODUCTION, by Louis Untermeyer

AN INVTTATION

The Pasture

II. THE CODE AND OTHER STORIES

The Tuft of Flowers

Blueberries

Home Burial

The Witch of Coös

Paul's Wife

Ghost House

At Woodward's Gardens

The Vindictives

Wild Grapes

The Bearer of Evil Tidings

The Fear

Snow

The Code

III. THE HIRED MAN AND OTHER PEOPLE

Birches

Mowing

Mending Wall

The Mountain

Brown's Descent, or The Willy-Nilly Slide

The Vanishing Red

To the Thawing Wind

A Lone Striker

Two Tramps in Mud Time

Love and a Question

An Old Man's Winter Night

The Gum-Gatherer

The Investment

The Figure in the Doorway

To a Young Wretch

The Wood-Pile

A Hundred Collars

The Star-Splitter

The Housekeeper

The Hill Wife

The Telephone

Revelation

Going for Water

A Line-Storm Song

The Death of the Hired Man

IV. STOPPING BY WOODS AND OTHER PLACES

Hyla Brook

West-running Brook

A Patch of Old Snow

A Time to Talk

A Boundless Moment

Bereft

A Winter Eden

The Flower Boat

The Census-Taker

A Brook in the City

Evening in a Sugar Orchard

The Onset

Spring Pools

0In a Disused Graveyard

Sand Dunes

The Birthplace

For Once, Then, Something

A Serious Step Lightly Taken

Tree at my Window

Sitting by a Bush in Broad Daylight

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening

V. THE RUNAWAY AND OTHER ANIMALS

The Oven Bird

Our Singing Strength

A Minor Bird

Never Again Would Birds' Song Be the Same

A Blue Ribbon at Amesbury

Looking for a Sunset Bird in Winter

A Drumlin Woodchuck

The White-tailed Hornet

Waspish

Departmental

Design

Fireflies in the Garden

Canis Major

Two Look at Two

The Cow in Apple Time

The Bear

The Runaway

VI. COUNTRY THINGS AND OTHER THINGS

The Road Not Taken

The Need of Being Versed in Country Things

The Sound of the Trees

In Hardwood Groves

Nothing Gold Can Stay

After Apple-Picking

The Grindstone

The Kitchen Chimney

Gathering Leaves

A Leaf Treader

A Hillside Thaw

On a Tree Fallen Across the Road

A Passing Glimpse

Dust of Snow

Fire and Ice

Riders

The Master Speed

My November Guest

Storm Fear

Wind and Window Flower

October

Good Hours

Pea Brush

I Will Sing You One-O

To Earthward

The Gift Outright

A Considerable Speck

The Silken Tent

Good-Bye and Keep Cold

A Prayer in Spring

Into My Own

Come In

Choose Something Like a Star

A Servant to Servants

Directive

Acquainted with the Night

Once by the Pacific

Happiness Makes Up in Height for What It Lacks in Length

For John F. Kennedy His Inauguration

Away!

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Introduction

I

AN INTRODUCTION

ROBERT FROST: THE MAN AND THE POET

The character, as well as the career, of Robert Frost gives the lie to the usual misconceptions of the poet. Frost has been no less the ordinary man for being an extraordinary creator.

The creator, the artist, the extraordinary man, is merely the ordinary man intensified: a person whose life is sometimes lifted to a high pitch of feeling and who has the gift of making others share his excitement. The ordinary man lives by the creative spirit. He thinks in images and dreams in fantasy; he lives by poetry. Yet he seems to distrust it. He clings to the notion that a poet is a queer and incompetent creature, a daydreaming ne'er-do-well, an eccentric trying to escape the business of the everyday world, a soft and coddled soul.

Almost the opposite is true. History is the record of men who were not only poets but workers, men of action, discoverers, dreamers and doers. Sir Walter Raleigh's exploration of Guiana and other expeditions in the New World brought him fame and envy. Sir Philip Sidney was a soldier whose gallantry on the field of battle is a deathless story. Geoffrey Chaucer, "father of English poetry," was a diplomat and secret agent on the king's business in Europe. John Milton was Cromwell's fighting foreign secretary.

Nor have poets failed in labor and industry. Ben Jonson was a bricklayer. Robert Herrick was a jeweler. Robert Burns was a plowboy. William Blake designed, printed, and sold his own books. William Morris manufactured furniture. Long before he became known as the greatest American poet of his time, Robert Frost worked as a farmer, a bobbin boy in a Massachusetts mill, a shoemaker, andhe west coast and worked on the San Francisco Bulletin, a Democratic newspaper. During the Civil War, he was proud to be a Copperhead, a southern sympathizer and champion of states' rights. When his son was born on March 26, 1874, the child was named after the great southern soldier and scholar, and christened Robert Lee Frost.

The San Francisco of Frost's youth was a rough town -- Westerners sported revolvers as jauntily as Easterners carried canes -- and although Frost's father enjoyed the hazardous life of editor-politician in a boisterous community, his health did not stand the strain. When he died of tuberculosis in his early thirties, the boy Robert was ten years old.

ii

Taken back by his mother to the New England of his ancestors, the fatherless boy grew into the independent young man. His mother taught school and read to him. The first story he ever read through for himself was Scottish Chiefs; the second was Tom Brown's School Days. He was then fourteen, a late starter with books. He discovered poetry, and relished the sheer music of Poe as much as the meaningfulness of Emerson. Simultaneously with the discovery, he began to write his own verse. At fifteen he saw his first poem printed in the Lawrence High School Bulletin; it was a long ballad about the night when Cortez was driven out of Mexico City. When he was nineteen his first "professional" poem was accepted by The Independent, a magazine of national circulation; he received a check for fifteen dollars. His mother was proud, but the rest of the family were alarmed. His grandfather said, "No one can make a living at poetry. But I tell you what," he added shrewdly, "we'll give you a year to make a go of it. And you'll have to promise to quit writing if you can't make a success of it in a year. What do you say?"

"Give me twenty -- give me twenty," replied the nineteen-year-old youth, like an auctioneer.

Someone must have overheard the mocking flippancy and punished him by making him wait the full twenty years. Twenty years later, almost to the month, Robert Frost's first book, A Boy's Will was published and proved that the boy was not only a true poet but an accurate prophet.

Meanwhile he grew up among his fellows. He graduated at seventeen from the Lawrence High School, and delivered the valedictory. His covaledictorian was a remarkably pretty girl, Elinor Miriam White. Three years later he married her.

His had been a crowded youth. In school vacation days, from twelve on, he had worked in the shoe shops of Salem, New Hampshire, nailing shanks and cutting heels, helping on the farm with the haying, and pushing a bobbin wagon in a woolen mill in Lawrence, Massachusetts. But, long before he was eighteen, Frost knew what he wanted to do; he literally attached himself to poetry. First he made an attempt to please the family, especially his father's father, and get a formal education. After being graduated from high school, he entered Dartmouth College. Within two months he was back home. "I was mostly roughing around up there," he said years later. "My mother had a hard school to teach. She had a lot of rough boys, and teaching them was the least part of her work. I told myself -- perhaps as an excuse -- that if I had to be roughing some place, I'd be more useful roughing around that school than roughing around at college." So, at eighteen, Robert Frost came back an d took his mother's class away from her in the school at Methuen, Massachusetts.

Although his father's father was willing to help him, Robert was not willing to take the advice that went with the help. He might be told what to do, but never how to do it. Instead, he contributed to the family income by teaching at one school and another, by working in Lawrence, reporting for the town newspaper, editing a "column" of notes and sketches. One of his stories concerned a large bird in a big wind that, looking for a perch, flew to the top of the flagpole of a large building and stayed there until some hunting fool shot him. The building was the U. S. Post Office, the flag was flying, and the bird was an American eagle.

iii

Two years after his marriage, Robert Frost once more tried to please the family and complete his scholastic education. He entered Harvard in his twenty-second year and remained until his twenty-fourth. He liked the study of philosophy, he was drawn to the classics; he enjoyed Latin and Greek, but -- "It wasn't what I wanted " he said.

His grandfather was disappointed, but he gave his unambitious grandson a farm near Derry, New Hampshire, for a refuge. The refuge presented something of a challenge, and at twenty-five Frost began farming. He was anything but a born tiller of the soil, though he did make some sort of living exclusively as a farmer for five or six years. In the end he turned to teaching part of the time. But his head was full of poems, and his wife was only too willing he should write. Everyone was displeased -- except himself and his wife, neither of whom minded being "neglected."


IN NEGLECT

They leave us so to the way we took,
A s two in whom they were proved mistaken
, That we sit sometimes in the wayside nook,
With mischievous, vagrant, seraphic look,
And try if we cannot feel forsaken.

iv

The Derry farm had been given Frost on such terms that he was committed to it for ten years. Ten years passed and Frost, now thirty-five, was able to sell his New Hampshire property. With the money, plus the little he had saved by teaching at Pinkerton Academy in Derry Village, Frost uprooted himself and his family, and sailed for England. Living abroad was cheap -- this was in 1912 -- and Mrs. Frost wanted, she said, "to live under thatch." The Frosts found a home in Beaconsfield, a little town in rural Buckinghamshire. Although England was in the throes of a literary revival and "Georgian Poetry" was the center of a movement, the Frosts were untouched by what was going on. They went nowhere, except for occasional visits to London, and saw no one until almost a year had passed. Then they tried farming again, this time in Gloucestershire, where their near neighbors were the poet-dramatist Lascelles Abercrombie and the poet Wilfrid Wilson Gibson.

One evening in 1913 Frost sat before an open fire, shuffling through the poems he had written, only a few of which had been printed in magazines. In his hands was the work of twenty years. "It came to me that maybe someone would publish a few of these poems in a book. It really hadn't ever occurred to me before that this might be done." Frost remembered that Henley's publisher had been David Nutt. David Nutt was dead, but his widow was carrying on the publishing business, and to Mrs. Nutt he went. Mrs. Nutt read the work of the unknown poet and d ecided to publish his book.

It was as simple as that. Too simple, perhaps -- no influential friends; no publicity, nothing to win favor except the poetry. But young authors impatient for publication should remember that Frost had to wait more than twenty years from the time of his first poem in a high school magazine to the time of his first book When the volume appeared, the poet was thirty-eight years old.

v

A Boy's Will is Robert Frost's first book, and the title not only indicates the mood but pays a tribute to Longfellow who, in "My Lost Youth," wrote:

A boy's will is the wind's will,
And the thoughts of youth are long, long thoughts.

The English reviewers were captivated with Frost's unaffected lyrics, with his simple vocabulary and sharp observation, most of all with his way of turning usually forgotten thoughts into unforgettable phrases. But if the critics were enthusiastic about A Boy's Will they were exuberant about North of Boston, which appeared about a year later. They praised the second volume for many reasons. Wilfrid Wilson Gibson wrote, "Mr. Frost has turned the living speech of men and women into poetry...Tales that might be mere anecdotes in the hands of another poet take on universal significance because of their native veracity and truth to local character." An anonymous critic in The Nation acclaimed the poems for their "downright knowledge, their vivid observation, and (most important) their rich enjoyment of all kinds of practical life." Attention was also directed to the plain language and lack of rhetoric, "the careful rendering into the meter of customary speech."

The last feature is Frost's most characteristic, if not his most enduring, quality. A Boy's Will is poetry that sings; North of Boston is poetry that talks. This was emphasized in an essay entitled "The Permanence of Robert Frost," by Mark Van Doren, who maintained that Frost's singularity, his "strangeness," consisted in the conversational tone he builds into his verse. "Whether in dialogue or in lyric, his poems are people talking....The man who talks under the name of Robert Frost knows how to say a great deal in a short space, just as the many men and women whom he has listened to in New England and elsewhere have known how to express in the few words they use more truth than volumes of ordinary rhetoric can express."

vi

In early 1915, seven months after the outbreak of the First World War Robert Frost returned to America. He came back to find himself suddenly and unexpectedly famous. His two books were on sale everywhere in the United States, published by a New York publisher, Henry Holt and Company. The man who had left America an unknown writer came back to be hailed a leader of "the new era in American poetry."

As soon as Frost suspected he might now live by poetry alone, he did a characteristic thing: he bought a farm. It was on a hillside near Franconia, in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. He lived there for five years.

Less than a year after his return from England, Frost delivered the Phi Beta Kappa poem at Tufts College. The year following he was invited to join the advisory board of the short lived but brilliant monthly, The Seven Arts; he was elected to the National Institute of Arts and Letters; he was the Phi Beta Kappa poet at Harvard, the very college f rom which he had declined to graduate. "Truly," wrote Gorham B. Munson in 1927, "he had scarcely tapped, and all the doors of literary America opened to him."

Frost was now forty. During the next twenty years -- from 1916 to 1936 -- the poet spent much of his time at various institutions of learning. Although nominally engaged as a professor, he was a stimulator rather than a teacher. His function was not to instruct but to excite, to infuse with warmth, to act as "a sort of poetic radiator." This function he richly fulfilled without ceasing to create, he became a critical force; never trying to persuade anyone, he became an influence.

In 1938 he moved to Boston, Massachusetts, and three years later took a house in Cambridge. But he did not relinquish his hold upon the land. He now owned, and occasionally occupied, five farms -- all in Vermont.

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The volumes that followed North of Boston marked a continual increase in the ability to make verse talk and sing. Sometimes the poems conversed; sometimes they made their own tunes; mostly they talked and sang together.

Poets are said to lose the singing impulse as they grow older. The reverse is true with Frost -- his later work is distinguished by its lyrical power. A Witness Tree, published in Frost's sixty-seventh year, is as fresh as anything written in his youth.

Four times Frost was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for the best book of poetry of the year -- Frost being the only poet ever to achieve that quadruple distinction -- in 1924, for New Hampshire; in 1931, for Collected Poems; in 1937, for A Further Range; and in 1943, for A Witness Tree. Other honors steadily accumulated. He was intermittently on the faculty at Amherst College from 1916 to 1938; Poet in Residence at Michigan University from 1921 to 1923 and again during 1925-26; he delivered the Charles Eliot Norton lectures at Harvard in 1936. He was cofounder of the now famous Bread Loaf School of English -- a summer institution in the Green Mountains of Vermont -- and he has lectured there since 1920. He was awarded honorary degrees by Columbia, Dartmouth, Yale, Harvard, and other colleges and universities. He was one of the few authors to receive the Gold Medal from the National Institute of Arts and Letters.

These honors did not affect the man or his work. The quiet strength, the deep convictions, remained unshaken in the person as well as in the poetry. The last lines of the first poem in Frost's first book took on a prophetic conclusiveness:

They would not find me changed from him they knew -- only more sure of all I thought was true.

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The truth has been Frost's central passion. He has never been fooled by easy solutions or tricked by slogans; he has never given in to the fashion of the moment in poetry or politics. Again and again he has reaffirmed his belief; he states part of it in "The Black Cottage":

...why abandon a belief
Merely because it ceases to be true.
Cling to it long enough, and not a doubt
It will turn true again, for so it goes.
Most of the change we think we see in life
Is due to truths being in and out of favor.
As I sit here, and oftentimes,
I wish I could be monarch of a desert land
I could devote and dedicate forever
To the truths we keep coming back and back to.

But a persistent search for truths does not mean that Frost is a grim philosopher. On the contrary, his touch is as light as it is certain. It is light even when -- or especially when -- his subject is tragic. When Frost is most serious, he is most casual. His verse has a growing intimacy; it radiates an honest neighborliness in which wit and wisdom are joined. He knows humanity without its "company manners"; he has studied it in stony pastures and academies of art and science. He appreciates skill in every craft. Preferring reality of expedience to a retreat to a fantastic dream-world, he insists:

The fact is the sweetest dream that labor knows.

Always the worker as well as the dreamer, Frost shapes his verse and judges a poem by the same standards which, up T. K. Whipple, "he would apply to an ax or a hoe or a spade: it must be solid, strong, honest." The pulse of his verse is timed to the heartbeat of the workaday world. Poetry and action, love and need, are united. As the poet himself says at the end of "Two Tramps in Mud Time":

But yield who will to their separation,
My object in living is to unite
My avocation and my vocation
As my two eyes make one in sight.
Only where love and need are one,
And the work is play for mortal stakes,
Is the deed ever really done
For Heaven and the future's sakes.

Frost judges, but he rarely condemns; he is fundamentally serious, but never pompous. Some critics have considered him essentially a moralist, but his worst enemy (if he has one) would not accuse him of trying to make anything or anyone over. He accepts the world's contradictions without being crushed by them. One of his most recent po ems, significantly entitled "The Lesson for Today," is a long philosophical discussion, which concludes:

And were an epitaph to be my story
I'd have a short one ready for my own.
I would have written of me on my stone:
I had a lover's quarrel with the world.

"I had a lover's quarrel with the world." No reviewer has written, none will write, a more accurate summary of the poet's spirit; a contemplation of the world which is free to question, even to criticize, but always with understanding, always with earnest love.

-- Louis Untermeyer

Copyright 1916, 1923, 1928, 1930, 1934, 1939, 1943, © 1967, 1969 by Holt, Rinehart & Winston; copyright 1936, 1942, 1944, 1951, © 1956, 1958, 1961, 1962, by Robert Frost; copyright © 1964, 1967, 1970 by Leslie Frost Ballantine; copyright © 1971 by Louis Untermeyer and Mary Silva Cosgrave

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Reading Group Guide

TEACHER'S GUIDE
"[Frost] has bequeathed his nation a body of imperishable verse from which Americans will forever gain joy and understanding." -- John F. Kennedy

TO THE TEACHER
Portable and affordable, readable and reliable, a beloved and bestselling volume for several decades, this classic collection of the poetry of Robert Frost contains over 100 poems, with ample selections from every phase of Frost's long career. Now published exclusively by St. Martin's Paperbacks, Robert Frost's Poems presents all of Frost's best-known poems alongside dozens of others. This is the perfect book -- the ideal introduction -- for all teachers seeking to bring the vast and imperishable work of this great American poet into their classroom.

Robert Frost, who died in 1963 at the age of 88, is perhaps the most cherished of all American poets, achieving over the course of his long career a level of fame and popularity that few poets other have ever known -- and that continues to this day. Frost is a poet who composed, per William Wordsworth's memorable phrase, in "the language really used by men." Thus his work is as accessible as it is beautiful, as fresh as it is timeless. The voices and visions of the New England countryside are his primary subjects, the many different things to be heard and seen and experienced in this rich, rustic landscape.

The wit, wisdom, and well-structured qualities of Frost's poetry appeal to readers of all ages and backgrounds. With its common speech, direct expression, folksy candor, and steadfast adherence to rhyme, meter, and other formal issues, his poetry is as vital, memorable, and influential as any this country has produced. As Time magazine once observed: "Of U.S. poets, none has lodged poems more surely where they will be hard to get rid of . . . [Frost's] lines often have the trenchancy and inevitability of folk sayings." But although many are drawn to his traditional manner or old-fashioned simplicity, Frost is actually a poet whose writings are sometimes dark or ironic in tone, or even brutally realistic in their ideas and imagery. Such characteristics are not overlooked in this well-rounded selection of his verse; it gives us the wide range, the whole feeling, of this poet's art and craft.

The poet, editor, and anthologist Louis Untermeyer, Frost's friend and colleague, chose the poems that appear in this long-cherished volume. He also supplied its Introduction, a thorough yet informal assessment of the life and work behind these poems, as well as its running commentary. However, Untermeyer's comments, appearing in between the works throughout Robert Frost's Poems, should not be relied on too heavily; teachers should encourage their students to form and develop their own impressions of these poems. Untermeyer's commentary, valuable and learned though it is, should be seen as a series of introductory or explanatory asides meant to expand on -- rather than limit or narrowly define -- the music and meaning we find in Frost. These comments are suggestions, not instructions, on how to read and understand the poetry.

PRAISE FOR ROBERT FROST
"Frost was the first American poet who could honestly be reckoned a master-poet by world standards." -- Robert Graves
"[Frost is our] most eminent [and] most distinguished . . . Anglo-American poet." -- T.S. Eliot

"Frost [is among] the greatest of the American poets of the 20th century." -- Randall Jarrell

"No other American poet has so much art or so much subject matter." -- Mark Van Doren

PREPARING TO READ
This Teacher's Guide is primarily divided into two sections, which both appear immediately below. The first, "Reading and Understanding the Poems," is meant to help students with reading comprehension, conceptual appreciation, the interpretation of symbols, the possibilities and complexities of words, and related matters. "Questions and Exercises for the Class," the second section, aims to enable students to think more freely, creatively, comparatively, or associatively about the varied writings that comprise Robert Frost's Poems. A brief supplementary section, "Other Readings and Resources," is offered in conclusion.

READING AND UNDERSTANDING THE POEMS
1. Louis Untermeyer's Introduction to this selection of Frost's poetry ends with "The Pasture." (p. 15) Why do you think Untermeyer finishes with this particular poem? Who is the speaker here -- and who is the audience -- both literally and figuratively?

2. "Home Burial" is a dramatic-narrative poem, one with characters, dialogue, and a story -- or at least a scene -- to reveal to us. (p. 27) What happens here? Who are the characters? Describe them; describe the crisis they are facing. What crucial events have occurred before the action of "Home Burial" takes place? Is the crisis of this scene resolved? Explain, paying particular attention to the poem's ending. Also, what other dramatic-narrative poems did you find in this book?

3. Frost visits the zoo in his "At Woodward's Gardens" poem. (p. 48) What points is Frost making in this poem about the similarities and differences between human beings and monkeys? What is a "burning-glass"? And what does Frost mean by saying that one monkey put a hand up to his nose "as if perhaps / Within a million years of an idea"?

4. Look again at "The Fear." (p. 60) What happens at the very end of this poem? Why do you think Frost is slightly unclear in this regard?

5. Explain the title of "The Code." (p. 83) What is this code? How is it both respected and disrespected over the course of the poem?

6. "Birches" is one of Frost's most beloved poems. (p. 90) Consider the clear, conversational language used throughout it. Do you think the speaker of this poem is the same person as the young boy pictured swinging amid birch trees? Why or why not? How would you describe the tone or overall attitude of the narrator of this poem? Also, explain why the word "toward" (in the fourth-to-last line) is italicized. What distinction or clarification is being made here?

7. Untermeyer states in his prefatory comments for "Mending Wall" that this poem "rests upon a contradiction. Its two famous lines oppose each other." (p. 95) Identify these two lines, explaining why you do or do not agree that they are contradictory. Moreover, explain what each line means in the context of this poem -- as well as what each means in a broader, more universal context.

8. Paraphrase the action of "Two Tramps in Mud Time." (p. 111) Who are the people encountered by this poem's speaker, and what do they want from him? An extended digression on the weather, focusing on the cycles of nature and running for a few stanzas, occurs in the middle of the poem. Why do you think this descriptive aside was included here? How would you characterize the speaker's feelings about the natural world?

9. "The Hill Wife" is a poetic sequence, or the verse equivalent of what is called a suite in music. (p. 149) In Frost's series of lyrical sketches, we are shown, as Untermeyer notes, "a remarkably rounded portrait of fear and love and loneliness." Re-read each of the five poems individually, commenting on how each poem enhances or enriches the complex subject of this sequence: the wife herself.

10. What link does Frost establish in "Revelation" between "babes that play / At hide-and-seek" and "God afar?" (p. 154) More generally, what does this poem have to say about our means of communication, about our "light words that tease and flout" as well as our "literal" words?

11. Describe in detail the image that informs the entirety of "A Patch of Old Snow." (p. 171) How does Frost metaphorically connect the snow in this poem to a newspaper he might have "forgotten" about? Does this connection seem ironic to you? Explain why or why not.

12. Explain the meaning of the title for "In a Disused Graveyard." (p. 183) Identify those who still visit the graveyard, and those who do so no longer. What attributes and attitudes does Frost assign to the grave stones herein? What is "the lie" he thinks the stones might believe?

13. "Stopping by Woods on a Snowing Evening" is another Frost poem that has been known and recited by generations of readers. (p. 189) Look at the final four lines of this poem. How, if at all, do they set the tone and meaning for the poem as a whole? What meaning(s) do you, as an individual reader, derive from these famous four lines of poetry? Why do you think the last two lines are identical?

14. "To err is human, not to, animal" -- so goes a pivotal line in "The White-Tailed Hornet." (p. 203) What does that line mean in the context of this poem? Describe the poem's thesis, especially as it concerns human-versus-animal "downward comparisons" and the ideas of "instinct" and "fallibility"? And how does this thesis compare and contrast with the point of view expressed in Frost's poem called "Waspish"? (p. 205)

15. "The Road Not Taken" is surely one of Frost's most familiar and most famous works. (p. 219) Describe its overall mood. How does the speaker of the poem feel about the choice he made, about the road he chose? And which "road," in your view, is the one being referred to in the title: the "road not taken" by most people or the "road not taken" by the speaker? Explain. Finally, what lesson do you find in this poem concerning how one should live one's life? What is the moral here?

16. Explicate the satire of these lines (taken from "The Grindstone"): "But standing outdoors hungry, in the cold, / Except in towns at night, is not a sin." (p. 226) Where else in this book did you find Frost casting a satirical eye on society, culture, politics, and so forth?

17. To anthropomorphize means to give human traits to a non-human thing, or to animate a non-human thing with human characteristics. How are both the sun and moon anthropomorphized in "A Hillside Thaw"? (p. 232) What purpose(s) might describing them in this way serve, given all that this poem has to tell us about the superhuman powers of nature? Also, what are the countless "silver lizards" appearing in this poem?

18. Consider the "we" that is mentioned throughout "Riders." (p. 237) Who is the narrator of this poem speaking for -- and what is it that "we" are riding? Where are "we" riding to? And why does the narrator believe "we" are doing all this riding in the first place? What does the "headless horse" signify? Defend your answers with references to the text of this poem. (And what are "blandishments"? Consult a dictionary if you are unsure.)

19. Define the term "mind" as it is used in the last four lines of "A Considerable Speck." (p. 251) Also explain the following line: "Plainly with an intelligence I dealt." Why does the speaker in this poem choose to the spare the life of the "speck" he encounters?

20. Note the repetition running through "Acquainted with the Night." (p. 268) What words, phrases, and lines are repeated? How, if at all, was your reading and understanding affected by these echoes? Did such repeating strike you as odd, mysterious, frightening, or otherwise? Explain your impressions by citing key terms and images here.

21. Look again at the last line of the last poem printed in Robert Frost's Poems: "I had a lover's quarrel with the world." What is the poet saying about himself, and about the life he has lived, in this famous line of verse? What is he saying about the way lovers quarrel?

QUESTIONS AND EXERCISES FOR THE CLASS
1. Comparing two of Frost's poems, "The Witch at Coös" (p. 33) and "Ghost House" (p.46), Untermeyer points out that they are both ghost stories. He continues: "It is not hard to guess which poem was written in Frost's youth and which was composed in his forties." Would you agree? When do you think each poem was written -- and why?

2. "Frost is most profound when he is most playful," as Untermeyer comments near the conclusion of Section II. (p. 82) Indeed, as Frost himself remarked more than once: "I am never more serious than when joking." Identify several poems in this book that support this contention, explaining how and why they do so.

3. Point out a dozen or so different poems in which Frost makes direct and detailed comparisons between mankind and nature. Then, as a class, discuss how Frost regards the relationship between mankind and nature.

4. In the preceding question, you were asked to discuss Frost's views of the relationship between mankind and nature. Now -- again as a class, and looking in particular at the poems in Section V -- conduct a similar discussion about Frost's depiction of the relationship between mankind and animals. How do the people and the creatures of the earth compare in these poems? How do they contrast?

5. "After Apple Picking" conveys the world as it is experienced by an exhausted laborer. (p. 224) What words, lines, ideas, or images in this poem make it clear that the narrator's mind and body have been weakened by so much working? Where else in Robert Frost's Poems do you find the poet writing about labor and/or laborers? Finally, what does work itself mean to Frost -- both poetically (as a subject to write about) and personally (as a part of life)? Point out poems in this book that support your views.

6. Re-read "Fire and Ice." (p. 237) Then conduct a classwide dialogue about the symbolism in this brief yet powerful poem. What do you think "fire" and "ice" stand for? And how does Frost's use of informal or conversational language help him get his message across here -- or doesn't it? Explain. Also, what is the message of this poem? What is Frost's main point?

7. Like many other poets, Frost sometimes composed works meant to be read and appreciated as mysteries -- not in the sense of detective stories, but in a more individual, cosmic, philosophical, or even playful sense. With this in mind, discuss the questions that are posed -- and the answers that are, perhaps, sought -- in "For Once, Then, Something" (p. 185), "Design" (p. 208), and "Directive" (p. 266).

8. Because his poetry is so consistently and effortlessly rhymed, and so formally and vividly composed, Frost is an author who works are often memorized, especially his short, decidedly folksy or epigrammatic lyrics. Select a couple of your favorite brief Frost poems and commit them to memory. Then, recite these works before your class, explaining what you like about them -- and how the poems speak to you personally.

9. Robert Frost once remarked in a letter (which Untermeyer quotes on p. 220) that a poem "is a reaching-out toward expression; an effort to find fulfillment. A complete poem is one where an emotion has fond its thought, and the thought has found the words." Using these criteria as your guidelines, write a few "complete" poems of your own. Afterwards, you may wish to share them with your classmates.

OTHER READINGS AND RESOURCES
Henry Holt and Company, which was Frost's American publisher for all of his long career, offers many fine editions of his work in affordable paperback editions. Teachers looking for more of the work of Robert Frost should investigate the following volumes: The Poetry of Robert Frost, which collects all eleven books of poetry that Frost saw published and is therefore the most comprehensive gathering of his verse in print; The Robert Frost Reader, which assembles not only many poems from throughout Frost's lifetime but also speeches, interviews, letters, one-act plays, and other materials; You Come Too, which is a collection of Frost's verse intended specifically for younger readers; and The Road Not Taken, which is an abridged version of the thorough but somewhat hefty Poetry of Robert Frost (mentioned above).

For those instructors requiring a fuller biographical understanding of Frost, Henry Holt and Company also publishes Robert Frost: A Life by Jay Parini (of Middlebury College). This detailed, well-written biography first appeared in 1999 and was thus praised by Christopher Lehmann-Haupt of The New York Times: "Graceful . . . A pleasure to read . . . [Combines] penetrating commentary on the poetry and good illustrative anecdotes . . . Mr. Parini has brought [Frost] more sharply into focus."

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Perhaps the most popular and successful poet in American history, Robert Frost (1874-1963) received the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry on four different occasions (1924, 1931, 1937, and 1943), as well as the Bollingen Poetry Prize (1963) and numerous other awards and honorary degrees.

Louis Untermeyer (1885-1978) worked as a poet, editor, and anthologist over the course of his long and influential career.

ROBERT FROST'S POEMS Teacher's Guide Copyright © 2002 by Holtzbrinck Publishers

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  • Posted February 15, 2010

    One of the Best

    Robert Frost is one of the best poets of all time. He knows his way around metaphors and similis like no one else, and it would be a shame it everyone didn't read at least one of his beautiful poems. His prose is unlike anyone else and is mastered only by himself. Read this if you have a love for the beautiful and tragic, you will appreciate it all the more.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 22, 2011

    Highly recommended.

    Now I look forward to reading some of his other works. This one is great.

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  • Posted October 8, 2011

    Highly Recommend: A master of the Art

    For a classic read and style this is my go to author and book. It's a great collection that is worth it's weight in gold!

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