Summary (Masterplots, Fourth Edition)
Like his first book, A Boy’s Will (1913), Robert Frost’s second, North of Boston, was first published in England. Despite that irony, it was, and remains, the book that connects the name Robert Frost with America’s New England.
Frost began writing poetry in the 1890’s while running a small farm in Derry, New Hampshire, but he found few publications that would accept his work. By the time he took his family to England in 1912, he had published a handful of poems in magazines and newspapers. He was a virtually unknown poet approaching the age of forty.
Frost was, and still is, seen as a poet on the fringe of the modernist movement from the 1910’s through the 1930’s. While others experimented with free verse, jazz rhythms, fragmentation, and other nontraditional methods, Frost chose to stick with conventions such as rhyme and meter. His own experiments had to do with the nuances of human speech organized along a poetic line. Frost theorized that it was possible to understand a sentence’s “sound of sense” even if the listener-reader could not make out the individual words spoken. Consequently, his poems sound like talk one might hear between two people—that is, everyday conversation—but talk of uncommon wit and intelligence. Some of the finest examples of that talk appear in the poems of North of Boston. A Boy’s Will presented a speaker who had moved away from the world of people and was...
(The entire section is 1827 words.)
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