Robert Frost

(March 26, 1874 – January 29, 1963)

Ask nearly anyone between the ages of 10 and 110 who attended elementary and/or high school in the United States to name the most famous American poet, and there’s a good chance he or she will answer, “Robert Frost.”

Is there a tenth- or eleventh-grade United States literature anthology that doesn’t contain either “Mending Wall,” “The Road Not Taken,” “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening,” or some combination of the three? Can anyone make it beyond tenth grade without being able to recite the unforgettable lines, “Good fences make good neighbors” and “I have promises to keep and miles to go before I sleep”? (And who hasn’t heard the theories about why Frost repeated that last line?)

Anyone who’s read The Outsiders, for Pete’s sake, studies Frost (“Stay gold, Ponyboy, stay gold!”).

Throughout his long tenure as premier United States poet, Frost has been celebrated as an early-modern, derided as a nineteenth-century throwback, praised for his craft, criticized for his adherence to outmoded conventions, beloved as a folksy grandpa-type, and scorned as a cold-hearted depressive.

He was the first poet ever to read at the inauguration of a United States President (John F. Kennedy, 1961) and won four Pulitzer Prizes and the Congressional Gold Medal. He attended Dartmouth, Harvard, and Cambridge Universities but never completed a degree. He was, however, awarded 40 honorary degrees (including one from Harvard).

He taught school, farmed, repaired shoes, worked in a Massachusetts textile mill, and edited a local newspaper. No stranger to personal heartache, he was survived by only two of his six children. He saw both a younger sister and a daughter committed to mental institutions.

Most contemporary criticism has abandoned the once-predominant view of Robert Frost being to poetry what Norman Rockwell was to painting. Now his poetry is generally thought to explore the existential anguish of the individual struggling to find meaning in an indifferent universe.

Robert Frost died of complications following surgery on January 29, 1963. He was 88 years old.

Thursday, March 26, will mark the 141st anniversary of his birth. As an American poet, Frost attained a stature that had been previously unprecedented and has not yet been matched. The anniversary of the birth of the artist whose work is ubiquitous in United States culture is well worth noting.

Therefore, we would like to humbly offer our Robert Frost birthday tribute. The following ... uh … “poem” … quotes and paraphrases several of Robert Frost’s most well-known poems. How many can you identify?

Email your guesses to social@prestwickhouse.com and qualify to win a free copy of one of our newest bestsellers, Reading Literature Level 11, which includes the longtime Frost staple, “Mending Wall.”

(Just so you know, some of the poems are cited more than once.)