ROBERT FROST: DARKNESS OR LIGHT?

By Joshua Rothman

Robert Frost

Robert Frost

Fifty years ago today [January 29, 2013], the poet Robert Lee Frost died, at the age of eighty-eight. Though Frost is thought of as a contemplative New England poet, he was born in San Francisco, and named for the Confederate general Robert E. Lee. As Raymond Holden explained in his 1931 New Yorker Profile of Frost, Frost’s father, William, was “an ardent Democrat and States’ Rights man.” Father Frost had tried to enlist in the Civil War on the Southern side, but was rejected because he was too young. “By the time Robert was born,” Holden writes, “the elder Frost was booming around San Francisco in a top hat, whooping up everything that was Democratic and belittling everything that wasn’t.” The young Robert Lee Frost grew up in politics; William Frost wrote for the San Francisco Bulletin, where a political enemy once took a shot at him through the window. “Around election time, the boy’s father used to dress him up in fancy costume and make him ride on floats in political parades or pound along in some torchlight procession getting sparks in his hair. Once when Father Frost was running for the office of something like tax-collector, Robert tagged around after him into all the saloons, helping to tack up election placards.”
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An early reminder that we’ll be reading and discussing the poetry of Robert Frost on May 25. Please bring your own choice of a poem by Frost, and if you wish, post it first on the blog via the CONTACT US page, or email it to me directly. Please see the SCHEDULE PAGE for selections to-date.

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