Poetry of Robert Frost and the Creative Genius of Everyday Life.pdf

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Bloom's Literature Poetry of Robert Frost and the Creative Genius of Everyday Life In his 1954 essay "The Prerequisites," Robert Frost (1874 1963) writes that "[a] poem is best read in the light of all the other poems ever written." 1 In this statement, Frost demonstrates a clear understanding of the inevitable connections that exist between great poets. A poem comes into existence at the urging of its maker but also against the backdrop of a tradition that defines it that has established criteria for the poetic, in terms of both sensibility and the mechanics of form. Born in the century of American Transcendentalism and its Romantic celebration of simplicity and the sublimity of nature, Frost stands as both a twentieth century link to that tradition and as the protagonist in a personal poetic struggle to establish a new perspective on that tradition's primary concerns. Think of twentieth century American poets, and Robert Frost almost certainly leaps to mind among the most prolific, influential, and popular. During his lifetime, Frost achieved a personal fame unique among living poets, a fame ordinarily limited to the few that the public imagination can tolerate in its increasingly cluttered purview. Several of his books of verse won a Pulitzer Prize: New Hampshire: A Poem With Notes and Grace Notes; A Further Range; A Witness Tree; and Collected Poems . Amy Lowell, an American poet and critic to whom Frost turned for support and favor early in his career, 2 called him "one of the most intuitive" poets of the day 3 and noted that "[h]e sees much, . . . both into the hearts of persons, and into the qualities of scenes." 4 Frost's fame and public approval were, however, far from unanimous. Critic Malcolm Cowley once noted, in "The Case Against Mr. Frost," in spite of his admiration for Frost's poetry, that "[s]ome of the honors heaped on him are less poetic than political. . . . [and] [h]e is being praised too often and with too great vehemence by people who don't like poetry." 5 Amy Lowell also notes, in addition to her praise and on the basis of only his first few books, that "his canvas is exceedingly small, and no matter how wonderfully he paints upon it, he cannot attain to the position held by men with a wider range of vision." 6 This "smallness" is balanced by the quality and depth of the "seeing" that Lowell praises, however. Esteemed American critic Edmund Wilson, in his 1926 essay "The All - Star Literary Vaudeville" writes: "Robert Frost has a thin but authentic vein of poetic sensibility; but I find him excessively dull, and he certainly writes poor verse." 7 Wilson's complaint, damning even in its thin vein of faint praise, takes Frost to task for the narrowness of his poetic vision. Frost himself, in a December 1914 letter to Sidney Cox, might even open the door to such criticism of his lack of aesthetic sensibility when he writes: "You aren't influenced by that Beauty is Truth claptrap. In poetry and under emotion every word used is 'moved' a little or much moved from its old place, heightened, made, made new." 8

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