He had a lover’s quarrel with the world

Robert Frost, who was born on this day in 1874, was a college dropout, an unsuccessful farmer, and the finest poet this country ever produced. He won four Pulitzer Prizes for his poetry back when the Pulitzer still meant something, and he’s one of the most-quoted and most-anthologized poets that ever lived. One reason for his enduring popularity is the fact that he continued to employ traditional poetic forms when many of his contemporaries were abandoning them for more experimental forms. Frost once said that he would as soon play tennis with the net down as write in free verse.

In honor of his birthday, here is a choral setting by Randall Thompson of one of Frost’s best-known poems, “The Road Not Taken.”

(If you’d like to hear the complete work “Frostiana,” of which the above is an excerpt, an excellent performance of it can be found here.)

3 Responses to He had a lover’s quarrel with the world

  1. I remember being one of the many college kids in the audience when Frost read some of his poetry to us, probably in 1962 or very early 1963. He had his wits well about him, but had neglected to bring on stage a book of his poetry. He asked if anyone in the audience had one and was pleased to autograph the copy he borrowed. I very well remember his reading (or probably recitation) of The Gift Outright which he had recited at JFK’s inauguration.

    In inviting him, Kennedy had written to ask if he were up to it. Frost had cabled back,

    IF YOU CAN BEAR AT YOUR AGE THE HONOR OF BEING MADE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES, I OUGHT TO BE ABLE AT MY AGE TO BEAR THE HONOR OF TAKING SOME PART IN YOUR INAUGURATION. I MAY NOT BE EQUAL TO IT BUT I CAN ACCEPT IT FOR MY CAUSE–THE ARTS, POETRY, NOW FOR THE FIRST TIME TAKEN INTO THE AFFAIRS OF STATESMEN.

    The glare from new fallen snow kept from reading a poem he had written for the occasion, Dedication.

  2. Teresa Rice says:

    “The Road Not Taken” is one of my favorite poems. Loved the choral music.

    • Bob says:

      I love it too. But I think my favorite is “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening,” because I have a thing about snow. Also, when my eldest child (now 34) was two years old, we had a picture book with that poem in it, and she used to make me read it to her over and over, until she had it memorized. It was always great fun at family gatherings or other events to have my two-year-old recite “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” and then watch everyone’s jaws drop.

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