illustrated portrait of American poet Robert Frost

Robert Frost

Start Free Trial

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Robert Frost was an American poet born in San Francisco, California at the end of the 19th century. He wrote a number of his most famous poems, including "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening," "The Road Not Taken," and "After Apple Picking" fairly early on in his career. Frost is often referred to as an American nature poet; however, the general appeal of his poetry is not found merely in its nature imagery, but in its metaphorical musing on the nature of life, death, work and happiness, and these themes are illuminated by the detailed images he creates.

Frost came from a fairly wealthy family, but he was expected to make his own way and work for a living. He attended Harvard briefly and also tried to earn a living as a farmer. However, his early years did not see him established in a steady vocation. Frost lived in a number of places, including England, and around the New England states. His travels exposed him to many people and sights that inspired his work. His poetry seemed to flourish best when he settled in Vermont, but prior to that Frost was obliged to take on occasional teaching jobs to support his family. Eventually he was able to make his living as a poet.

Frost won the Pulitzer Prize for poetry four times; this is one of the highest accolades available to poets. Also, Frost's work has been anthologized more often than perhaps any other American poet's. Having one's poetry included in an anthology usually indicates that the poet's work is considered important enough to be part of the literary canon.

Frost's work is well loved for its universal appeal and simple language that reveals deep truths about the human condition; he could be called the most famous American poet.

Approved by eNotes Editorial
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Who was Robert Frost?  

The poet Robert Frost was born in 1874 in San Francisco, where his parents had moved from Pennsylvania soon after their marriage. After Frost's father died from tuberculosis, Frost moved to Lawrence, Massachusetts with his mother and his younger sister, Jeanie. He attended college in the East, and following his marriage, he and his wife made a failed attempt at farming in New Hampshire. They then moved to England, where Frost met the British poets Edward Thomas, Rupert Brooke, and Robert Graves. Frost established a close friendship with Thomas, who wrote perceptive reviews of Frost's works and with whom he went on long walks. Thomas recognized the originality and the success of Frost's experiments with vernacular speech and its cadences—what Frost called "the sound of sense."

Frost is a poet whose work appeals to serious students of poetry as well as to a wider audience because his poems seem both homespun, with their ordinary diction, yet sophisticated in their poetic techniques. The poet Daniel Hoffman describes Frost's early poetry as "the Puritan ethic turned astonishingly lyrical and enabled to say out loud the sources of its own delight in the world." 

On poetry, Frost made this comment: “The ear does it. The ear is the only true writer and the only true reader.”

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Who was Robert Frost?  

Robert Frost was a poet who is associated with the landscape and vernacular of New England. Born in San Francisco in 1874, he moved to Lawrence, Massachusetts, when he was 11, following the death of his father from tuberculosis. After attending, but not graduating from, Dartmouth and Harvard, he worked as a cobbler and editor before turning his hand to poetry. By the 1920s, he had become a celebrated poet, having published several collections and having won four Pulitzer Prizes. From 1958 to 1959, he was the Poet Laureate of the United States. While his poems, such as "The Road Not Taken," are associated with the landscape of New England, they deal with larger ideas, such as how one decides on a path and recalls the past. Frost read a poem at John F. Kennedy's inauguration in 1961, and he died in Boston in 1963.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Last Updated on