The History About Robert Frost English Literature Essay

Jaylon Williams

English Honors Per 2

Robert Frost

Robert Lee Frost was an American poet of high regard. Originally from America, he did not have the same level of popularity in the states as he did in Europe. He was a literary genius who was by far the most popular of his day. Although he dabbled in story writing, Frost was most recognized for his poems. Robert Lee Frost was constantly given praise for his accomplishments whether by awards or just commendation from his fellow peers which he accepted humbly. His poems are highly esteemed due to their vivid depictions of New England where he had settled after leaving America. Even after his death, Robert Lee Frost was and always will be a substantial influence in the world of modern literature.

Robert Lee Frost, named after his father’s idol Robert E. Lee, was born on March 26, 1874 in San Francisco, California. He was born to William Prescott Frost Junior and Isabelle Moodie Frost. William and Isabelle had met while working as teachers to a small school in Lewiston, Pennsylvania. The two were married March 18, 1875 and settled in San Francisco, California. William was a journalist, unsuccessful politician, and teacher while Isabelle was also teacher. Isabelle was an immigrant of Scottish lineage while William was descended from New England ancestry. William’s father, Robert Lee Frost’s grandfather, was Nicholas Frost who had come to New Hampshire on board the Wolfana from Tiverton, Devon, England in 1634. William was the firstborn of the couple who gave birth to his younger sister, Jeanie, two years later.

Although satisfied with their small family, multiple complications, both physical and emotional began to strain Isabelle and William’s marriage. William was an eccentric alcoholic with very bizarre tendencies and peculiar preferences. He was a loud, overbearing journalist who always carried a rifle; it was noted that he also kept an obscene jar of pickled bull testicles in plain view on his work desk. Frost’s mother was the polar opposite of her husband but not in a positive aspect. Isabelle was an incredibly soft spoken woman who was constantly battling her overwhelming depression. The couple’s different personalities caused much nervous tension and discord during their years of marriage. These contentions in their marriage caused an increase in William’s already excessive alcohol intake which led to his unfortunate death in 1885 from tuberculosis when Robert was twelve. William had stated, prior to his untimely death that he wished to be buried in his birthplace of Massachusetts. Wishing to fulfill his final requests, Isabelle moved with Robert and Jeanie across the states and settled in her late husband’s hometown of Lawrence, Massachusetts with his parents.

After paying off her late husband’s debts and moving in with his parents, Isabelle began teaching middle school in Salem, New Hampshire. Robert and Jeanie were students at the middle school where their mother educated. The family adjusted suitably to their different life. Isabelle and Robert even became a member of the Swedenborgian church although the latter left as an adult. It was around this time that Robert discovered his abilities as a writer. While attending Lawrence High School, Robert promoted his first two attempts at literature in the school newsletter. Although not widely reviewed, his two poems provided a foundation to his future in literature. In 1892, Robert graduated from Lawrence High School as co-valedictorian to his classmate Elinor White.

Robert registered for Dartmouth College after graduating from Lawrence High School. Robert’s college experience was stopped abruptly after less than a semester when he un-enrolled to find work elsewhere. Strangely, he was enrolled long enough to be accepted into Theta Delta Chi fraternity. After his un-enrollment, he found income in doing many small jobs. He began working as a newspaper delivery boy, a light bulb filament changer, a labor factory worker, and as a teacher at the school where his mother taught. Although these jobs brought in a slight source of income, they left him feeling unfulfilled. Robert knew that his true passion was in his poetry.

Robert was not only unsuccessful in his poetic goals, but he was not doing very well romantically either. Ever since their graduation in 1892, Robert had been trying to charm fellow co-valedictorian Elinor White. Although Robert was very sincere in his love he was still rejected by Elinor. On one instance he had tried to win her over by offering her a book of his poetry. She was obviously not very impressed because she turned him down once again.

Feeling burdened by his job loss, college expulsion, and romantic failures Robert was surrounded by misery. He had been unsuccessful at publishing any decent poetry. Also he was still unable to obtain the love of Elinor White. Realizing there was not much for him in his current situation he strove to make a change. He packed a few minor necessities and took a trip down south to Dismal Swamp located around the North Carolina-Virginia area. Dismal Swamp, despite its rugged habitat and unwelcoming name, was a frequently visited by a variety of people. Many poets would visit this place for ideas in order to make poetry heart break and love pains. Robert went there in the hopes of having a similar experience. Originally Robert had the hopes of committing suicide as a dramatic end to his life, but he was stopped by a chance encounter. He came upon a group of duck hunters and spent time with their group. The time he spent with them gave him a new outlook on life. After spending time with the duck hunters he blessed with a train ticket by his mother and returned home. He did not record what actually happened in the swamp, but most of the events were noted in his poem "Kitty hawk".

This trip to the Dismal Swamp seemed to have had some effect. After his return from Dismal Swamp, Robert had his first poem published. The Independent, a New York newspaper, was the one who published his first piece, "My Butterfly". Not only was his professional life starting but he was having a better romantic life as well. He proposed marriage to Elinor once again and this time she accepted but she wished to get her degree from St. Lawrence University before marriage. He had begun to attend Harvard University and while there he and Elinor were married December 19, 1895. For the next two years, he studied liberal arts but after feeling restless he dropped out and sought to find a better life for him and Elinor.

Prior to his death, Robert’s grandfather had left an old farm for Robert in his will. The farm was located in Derry, New Hampshire and it was here where Robert and Elinor started their family. He also left them an annual pension of $500.00. Robert worked on this farm for 10 years; he would work the farm late in the evening and write early in the morning. He wrote some of his first masterpieces in those early morning sessions. Unfortunately, he proved to be unsuccessful in the farming business and in his last ten years of farming he had to get a teaching job.

On September 29, 1896, the couple gave birth to their first child Elliot. Sadly the child contracted cholera and died in July of 1900; Robert’s mother also died that same year from cancer. Robert and Elinor had 5 more children following the death of Eliot. The couple soon had a son named Carol along with three daughters and then a fourth daughter who died shortly after birth. His three daughters were Lesley, Irma, Marjorie, and Elinor Bettina who died 3 days after birth. This was merely a foreshadowing of the grief that would soon come to the people in Robert’s life.

In 1911, the farm officially became his so he sold it after 10 years of farming .In August of 1912, he used the profits to move the family to Great Britain. At first the family had settled in Glasgow before finding residence outside of London in Beaconsfield. Not much success had come from him trying to promote himself in the states. In England he hoped to find the literary influence that he could not find in his home country. While in England, he took advantage of the literary profits and immersed himself in the worlds of other poets. He became good friends with some of the most influential writers of that time which he used to shape his particular writing style. Many of the poets were eager to help him mature in poetry such as Edward Thomas, Ezra Pound, and T.E Hulme. Ezra Pound was actually the first American writer to write a decent literary critique of Robert’s published works. His first publishing was a book of poetry called "A Boy’s Will". Now that he had found his very own rhythm of writing, he was free to delve in the world of poetry as he pleased.

In 1915, Frost returned to America at the beginning of WWI. He settled in Franconia, New Hampshire where he bought a farm in which he continued do his poetic works. This farm, which was summer house of the Frost family until 1938, is now a museum in his honor. Frost became an English teacher at Amherst College located in Massachusetts. From 1916 to 1938, he sought to bring out the love of literature in his students and lead them to success.

Always concerned about education, Robert spent 40 years teaching during the summer at the Bread Loaf School of English. The school was a part of the mountain range section of Middlebury College that was located in Ripton, Vermont. He also was the teacher of a fellowship at the University of Michigan. It was here where he was here he received the lifetime achievement of as fellow in Letters. This was not the only achievement Robert received from colleges. He received over 40 degrees from colleges such as Princeton, Harvard, and Cambridge. Robert was also the only person to ever receive two honorary degrees from Dartmouth College. He was further honored when the Robert Frost Middle School in Virginia was named after him along with Amherst college library. Along with these well deserved honors, he was bestowed with four Pulitzer Prizes noting his achievements. By far the most enthralling on all of the honors came when Robert was set to appear in John F. Kennedy’s Presidential inauguration in 1961. Even after this he was being honored when John F. Kennedy sent him to be a national diplomat to the Soviet Union. All of these marked well deserved milestones in the poet’s life.

Even with all of this honor and gratitude, it was not enough to hide the grief he had been going through over the years. Robert was forced to admit his younger sister Jeanie to a mental hospital in at which she died nine years later. In 1946, Frost’s daughter Irma began to deteriorate mentally and was put into a mental facility the next year. In 1925, Frost’s daughter Marjorie was diagnosed with chronic appendicitis, pneumonia, nervous exhaustion, and a per-cardiac infection. She eventually recovered and started attending nursing school four years later but the experience left her body weak and susceptible to disease. On May 2, 1934, Irma died of childbirth after developing a puerperal fever after giving birth to her daughter. Her daughter was taken in by her older brother Carol and his wife Lillian. It was around this time that Elinor was diagnosed with angina pectoris from which she recovers. Four years later on March 12, 1938 Elinor died of congestive heart failure. Robert was so heart broken by the ordeal that he was not even able to go to her cremation. The death of Elinor took a harder toll on the couple’s son Carol. For years Carol, along with help from his father, had been battling depression and suicidal thoughts. Even with Robert’s constant coaxing and compassion, Carol could not find a reason to stay on this earth. On October 9, 1940, Carol took his deer rifle and shot himself in the head. Robert halted all of his work to travel to South Shaftsbury to be with Carol’s son Prescott who had discovered the body. Robert had always tried to help his son, he even wrote a friend saying, "I took the wrong way with him. I tried many ways and every single one of them was wrong."

On January 29, 1963, Robert E Frost was admitted to the hospital where he died of a pulmonary embolism. He had been stricken with the embolisms before the last attack. Prior to this doctors had discovered a form of cancer in his prostate and bladder region during a prostate surgery. There was a private service held for family and friends in the Appleton Chapel in Harvard. A public service was also held at the Johnson Chapel in Amherst College. He was cremated and his ashes were buried in the family plot located in Old Bennington Vermont. He died only eight weeks prior to his eighty-ninth birthday.

Robert Lee Frost was by far one of the greatest modern poets of the twentieth century. Not only did he exemplify his own mannerism of writing, but he always portrayed what it meant to be a true poet. History will forever include him in the collection of great poets. Using his own styles and formalities he shaped the way his writings would work He used his surroundings, not his experiences, to shape his literary works. Even in his darkest times when he was going through the harshest struggles of his life, he still showed could character. He had his flaws just like anyone else, but he kept everything professional and kept his mind on the task at hand. Never giving up on his dreams, he always knew that someday he would reach his goal. In the face of grief he showed that he could overcome and that he was able to handle his own life and press forward.