How was Robert Frost's life reflected in his poetry?What where the personlity traits that where in his life and in his poetry?

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vangoghfan | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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Robert Frost’s life was reflected in his poetry in a variety of ways.  For instance, from an early age, Frost was raised in New England, and New England, of course, provides the setting and the characters for many of his poems (such as “Out, Out---,” to mention just one example). His education at Lawrence High School, where he was a strong student, helped give him the kind of education and interest in literature that would nourish his later career.  His first poems were published in Lawrence High’s Bulletin, and he eventually became editor of that publication.  Thus, his experience at Lawrence helped contribute to his growing ambitions and self-confidence as a writer.

Frost’s experience working various low-paying jobs (such as millworker and teacher) helped give him an intimate familiarity with the lower- and lower-middle-class society which is often the subject of his poems. His bouts with depression (including a suicide attempt) helped make him familiar with the darker side of human existence, which is also treated in his poems.  His own frustrations in love, especially when courting his wife Elinor, helped provide yet another subject for some of his best-known poems.

In 1897, Frost was able to begin studying at Harvard, an experience which also helped prepare him intellectually to become a serious poet.  However, he had to withdraw from Harvard after two years, and it was now that he decided to become a chicken farmer, thus giving him familiarity with rural life and with the lives of farmers – two more subjects of some of his most significant poems.  One notable poem, for instance, is titled “The Pasture.” Another is called “After Apple-Picking.” Another is titled “The Death of a Hired Man,” while yet another is called “Mending Wall.”  Perhaps the most famous of these poems with rural settings and characters is “Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening,” in which even the horse pulling the speaker’s cart or sled has a significant role:

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

Eventually Frost was given a larger farm by his grandfather, and, when his grandfather died, Frost received enough of an inheritance to allow him to devote more of his time and attention to his writing. He even combined his interest in writing with his practical duties as a farmer by contributing articles about chickens to poultry magazines. Later work as a teacher kept Frost in touch, in a practical way, with the life of the mind, and eventually he and his family were able to settle for a while in England.

During his time in London, Frost became familiar with a number of other American writers, including the highly influential poet Ezra Pound, who championed Frost’s first book. By the time Frost returned to the United States in early 1915, he had begun to establish a reputation as one of America’s most promising poets. 

In all the ways just suggested, then (as well as many more too numerous to mention), Robert Frost’s life clearly affected Robert Frost’s poetry.

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