Saturday, January 31, 2009

To Envy Robert Frost

Eric and I went to the library a week or so ago. He wanted to check out some books on tape (or CD, as they are these days). Looking over his shoulder I saw a plastic case with the title, "The Voice of the Poet: Robert Frost." I'd always enjoyed Mr. Frost's poetry so I thought it would be fun to hear him read his own work. I checked it out and took it home.

The recordings were made at different times in different places, all later in his life. His voice warbled a bit. That, and his New England accent, reminded me of Katherine Hepburn. He read simply, evenly, sometimes too quickly, I thought, with less drama or emotion than I expected.

I realized again why I like his poetry. He wrote about ordinary things: birch trees, owls, apple picking. He discovered the poetry of simple conversations with people, of a leaf covered path, the grass.

Dust of Snow
The way of a crow
Shook down on me
The dust of snow
From a hemlock tree

Has given my heart
A change of mood
And saved some part
Of a day I rued.
(Robert Frost, 1923)

I found myself envious of his talent. But as I read the brief biography accompanying the recording I learned his life was filled with tragedy. His father died when he was 11 years old. His first son died of cholera at age four. His sister was institutionalized.

If his tragic life somehow birthed his genius, then I'll pass. I'll remain content with my simple prose and keep my mostly happy life.

I'll never win a Pulitzer,
Though Robert Frost won four.
My prize—a happy family;
I'll want for nothing more.
(Rebecca K. Grosenbach, 2009)


  1. I like Frost, too and have heard recordings of his voice reading his poetry, so know what you are talking about.

    To be content with who you are is a mark of success as far as I am concerned.

  2. You're a genius in your own right. You are so incredibly creative and you strive to do well at things that don't come easily to you. Plus you keep a house, a job, a husband, and awesome child, and the two younger ones that are just "meh". Just kidding. You have raised the three of us beautifully. I don't know who would understand me if you weren't around
    Love you, Mom!!

  3. Thanks for the comments. I wasn't fishing for compliments, but I'll take 'em. :o)