The Dimensions of Robert Frost

The Dimensions of Robert Frost

The Dimensions of Robert Frost

The Dimensions of Robert Frost

Excerpt

Whatever Robert Frost is, he is at least a complex and sophisticated man. I do not know that there is any secret concerning him, but if there is it is open enough. He writes out of the heart of his material, neither spiritually and physically detached from nor superior to it. What is original in his response will be found in the fact that between Frost and life there is rapport. And there is euphoria! Poetry is for him a holiday and a gaiety of the spirit, and even when it is serious, the writing of it is still the most passionate fun imaginable.

If he had been born and bred in an urban settlement, this passion for poetry would have been equally strong. His genius--furor poeticus --has been a possessive daemon. All that he has lived--his anxiety, agony, laughter, wisdom, grief--has been turned into his art. Committed to an exciting adventure--the mastery of art as a vehicle of a vision--he has practised that art while wresting a living in a workaday world not primarily interested in poetry. What he has lived lights up the poetry. This is the root of the matter.

Self-described as "a plain citizen," he is about as plain as Biblical Joseph with his coat on. He is, according to the facts, an American of Scottish ancestry, impregnated with something more than passing interest in Greek and Latin culture; a man deriving what he has to say from contemplation of the directly observed; an uninhibited, tireless, penetrating talker; a principled realist, undeluded by phony ideas; a political and social conservative; an intransigent perfectionist in his art. There is warmth in him as there is in his poetry. Many like the warmth; many like the poetry. It is hard to realize how the one could be divided from the other. "There is in all great poets," says Emerson, "a wisdom of humanity which is superior to any talents they exercise. The author, the wit, the partisan, the fine gentleman, does not take place of the man." This can stand as written for Frost.

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