"We know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose." (Romans 8:28)

Friday, September 2, 2011

Following Robert Frost

While in New Hampshire, Nan and I visited two homes owned by Robert Frost. I'll tell you about them in the order he lived in them, not the order we visited. The first was the Frost Farm in Derry.
 The farm was purchased for him by his grandfather, who continued to support him in spite of his dropping out of college, and his ambition to become a poet.
Although he wasn't to be a successful farmer, he made a go of it with the help of hired men. He promised his grandfather he would keep at it here for at least 10 years.
He raised chickens and had a ready market for the eggs at a local dairy.
Frost wrote about his experiences and the things he knew, but his poems always had another, deeper meaning.
 Stone boat on display in the barn:
Frost's poem about a stoneboat.
Each spring Frost and his neighbor would repair the stonewall between their properties which inspired his poem, "Mending Wall" Excerpts from the poem:

Something there is that doesn't love a wall,
That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it,
And spills the upper boulders in the sun;
And makes gaps even two can pass abreast.
The work of hunters is another thing:
I have come after them and made repair
Where they have left not one stone on a stone,
But they would have the rabbit out of hiding,
To please the yelping dogs. The gaps I mean,
No one has seen them made or heard them made,
But at spring mending-time we find them there.
I let my neighbour know beyond the hill;
And on a day we meet to walk the line
And set the wall between us once again....

...There where it is we do not need the wall:
He is all pine and I am apple orchard.
My apple trees will never get across
And eat the cones under his pines, I tell him.
He only says, "Good fences make good neighbours."
Spring is the mischief in me, and I wonder
If I could put a notion in his head:
"Why do they make good neighbours? Isn't it
Where there are cows? But here there are no cows.
Before I built a wall I'd ask to know
What I was walling in or walling out,
And to whom I was like to give offence. 

THe house itself reminded me of the one I grew up in in West Lebanon, NH. Built about the same time, I guess.
A two-seater outhouse in the shed between house and barn.
 Nan and I tried it out for size.
The kitchen table where we were told Frost composed many of his poems.
 His favorite chair, according to his daughter.
A downstairs room where a hired man was taken in and died, inspiring another poem. Excerpt:

"Warren," she said, "he has come home to die:
You needn't be afraid he'll leave you this time."

"Home," he mocked gently.

"Yes, what else but home?
It all depends on what you mean by home.
Of course he's nothing to us, any more
Than was the hound that came a stranger to us
Out of the woods, worn out upon the trail."

"Home is the place where, when you have to go there,
They have to take you in."

After leaving the farm in Derry, Frost spent some time in Europe. In 1915 he bought a house in the Franconia area, with a grand view of the White Mountains.
 The route to the Frost place is as unpretentious as it was then.
 We parked in a parking lot near the paved highway and walked up the country road to the house.
A view from the road.
 Today, the Frost Place is a Center for the Arts.  Since 1977 a contemporary poet has been awarded a residency each summer.

 We walked around respectfully and did not disturb the docent.

 A map of the grounds and trail.
 About the trail.

 We could see a small plane pulling a glider into the sky.

 We walked the Poetry Trail.
Several of Frost's poems are posted along the trail.
 Wild Turkeys
 An excerpt from my favorite Frost poem, "The Road Not Taken."

 Another favorite.
 We stopped to pick some ripe raspberries.
 A flowery meadow.
 The view from Frost's front porch is beautiful enough to inspire poetry, I think.
 Beavers were busy building a dam in this creek near our parking spot.
 And gliders were still drifting in the sun.
"I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference."

A popular and often-quoted poet, Frost was honored frequently during his lifetime, receiving four Pulitzer Prizes for PoetryFrost was 86 when he spoke and performed a reading of his poetry at the inauguration of President John F. Kennedy on January 20, 1961. At the time of his death on January 29, 1963, Frost was considered a kind of unofficial poet laureate of the US.

1 comment:

  1. This was a lovely, beautiful, informative post, Liz. Wonderful. The hallway in the old house brought back memories of a visit to the east coast when I was 4 years old. I barely remember anything else, except a hallway like that and the door with the light pouring through.