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A four-time Pulitzer Prize winner in poetry, American Robert Frost depicted realistic New England life through language and situations familiar to the common man.
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Within just a few months, Frost, now 38, found a publisher who would publish his first book of poems, A Boy’s Will, followed by North of Boston a year later. It was at this time that Frost met Ezra Pound and Edward Thomas, two men who would affect his life in significant ways.
Pound and Thomas were the first to review his work in a favorable light,
as well as provide significant encouragement. Frost credited Thomas's long walks over the English landscape as the inspiration for one of his most famous poems, "The Road Not Taken." Apparently, Thomas's indecision and regret regarding what path to take inspired Frost's work. The time Frost spent in England was one of the most significant periods in his life, but it was short-lived. WWI broke out in 1914, and Frost and Elinor returned to America early in 1915.
When Frost arrived back home, his reputation had preceded him, and he was well-received by the publishing world. His publisher, Henry Holt, who would remain with him for the rest of his life, had purchased all of the copies of North of Boston, and in 1916, he published Frost's Mountain Interval, a collection of other works that he created while in England, including a tribute to Thomas. Publishers such as the Atlantic Monthly, who had turned Frost down when he submitted work earlier, came calling. Frost famously sent the Monthly the same poems that they had rejected before his stay in England.
In 1916, Frost and Elinor settled down on a farm that they purchased in Franconia, New Hampshire. There, Frost began a long career as a teacher at several colleges, reciting poetry to eager crowds and writing all the while. He taught at Dartmouth and the University of Michigan at various times, but his longest stint was at Amherst College, where he taught on and off for significant periods for more than 45 years, and where the main library is now named in his honor. He also spent almost every summer and fall at Middlebury College, teaching English on its campus in Ripton, Vermont.
Frost received more than 40 honorary degrees during his lifetime. In 1924, he received his first of four Pulitzer Prizes for his book New Hampshire. He would subsequently win his other Pulitzers for Collected Poems (1931), Further Range (1937) and A Witness Tree (1943).
In the late 1950s, Frost, along with Ernest Hemingway and T.S. Eliot, championed the release of his old acquaintance Ezra Pound, who was being held in a federal mental hospital for treason. Pound was released in 1958, after indictments were dropped. In 1962, Frost visited the Soviet Union on a goodwill tour. His announcement that Americans are "too liberal to fight," when he visited the Soviet Premier Khrushchev, caused a lot of grief. That same year, Congress awarded Frost the Congressional Gold Medal.
In 1961, at the age of 86, Frost was honored when asked to write and recite a poem for President John F. Kennedy's inauguration. His sight now failing, he was not able to see the words in the sunlight and substituted the reading of one of his poems, "The Gift Outright," which he had committed to memory. On January 29, 1963, Frost died from complications related to prostate surgery. He was survived by two of his daughters, Lesley and Irma, and his ashes are interred in a family plot in Bennington, Vermont.
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