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Book Title: North of Boston: Poems|
The author of the book: Robert Frost
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 579 KB
City - Country: No data
Edition: Dodd Mead
Date of issue: June 1st 1977
ISBN 13: 9780396074403
Loaded: 2643 times
Reader ratings: 3.9
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The title North of Boston refers to Derry, New Hampshire, where Robert Frost and his family worked a farm for twelve lean and very cold years, years when Frost composed at least the first draft of many of these poems, but it also alludes to the great shift of cultural attitudes you encounter—or once encountered--as you move from the intellectual life of Boston to the pastoral atmosphere of New Hampshire and Vermont.
Frost is too organic a writer to develop things schematically. Sometimes, as in “A Hundred Collars” or “The Black Cottage,” the “Boston” voice is that of a university professor or a clergyman. More often, as in “The Death of the Hired Man,” “Home Burial,” “A Servant to Servants,” “The Housekeeper,” and “The Fear,” it is the voice of a sensitive, imaginative woman controlled--sometimes consumed—by the unrelenting realism of farm life and farm men. On the other hand, the voice may sometimes be an interloper or a stranger: a traveler who views “The Mountain” as a tourist does, a new farmer who does not understand that farmers with large families have a greater claim on wild “Blueberries” they pick to survive, the farmer/employer who fails to understand the hired man's “Code,” or the more educated farmer/neighbor of “Mending Wall.” Each of these situations is complex and nuanced, and rarely—as happens in “Blueberries”--are the attitudes reconciled or resolved.
There are an extraordinary number of masterpieces here. I'll let you count them for yourself. I'll only add two things: 1) a poem I did not mention, “Apple Picking,” about fulfillment and exhaustion, ecstasy and death, but mostly about a job well done, is certainly one of those masterpieces, and 2) as conventional as these blank verse monologues may seem, they are extraordinary in the way they combine an unforced iambic movement with the rhythms and diction of everyday speech. No poet in any age—and that includes Shakespeare—has done this sort of thing better than Frost.
To conclude, I'll end with an example of some of Frost's wonderfully natural blank verse from one of the book's lesser—but still very fine—poems, “The Self-seeker.” Here the title character, an injured mill worker who is planning this morning to settle his claim against the company—far too cheaply—discusses with his friend Willis the nature of the accident.
"What does he think?--How are the blessed feet?
The doctor's sure you're going to walk again?"
"He thinks I'll hobble. It's both legs and feet."
"They must be terrible--I mean to look at."
"I haven't dared to look at them uncovered.
Through the bed blankets I remind myself
Of a starfish laid out with rigid points."
"The wonder is it hadn't been your head."
"It's hard to tell you how I managed it.
When I saw the shaft had me by the coat,
I didn't try too long to pull away,
Or fumble for my knife to cut away,
I just embraced the shaft and rode it out--
Till Weiss shut off the water in the wheel-pit.
That's how I think I didn't lose my head.
But my legs got their knocks against the ceiling."
"Awful. Why didn't they throw off the belt
Instead of going clear down in the wheel-pit?"
"They say some time was wasted on the belt--
Old streak of leather--doesn't love me much
Because I make him spit fire at my knuckles,
The way Ben Franklin used to make the kite-string.
That must be it. Some days he won't stay on.
That day a woman couldn't coax him off.
He's on his rounds now with his tail in his mouth
Snatched right and left across the silver pulleys.
Everything goes the same without me there.
You can hear the small buzz saws whine, the big saw
Caterwaul to the hills around the village
As they both bite the wood. It's all our music.
One ought as a good villager to like it.
No doubt it has a sort of prosperous sound,
And it's our life."
"Yes, when it's not our death."
"You make that sound as if it wasn't so
With everything. What we live by we die by.
I wonder where my lawyer is. His train's in.
I want this over with. I'm hot and tired."
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Read information about the authorFlinty, moody, plainspoken and deep, Robert Frost was one of America's most popular 20th-century poets. Frost was farming in Derry, New Hampshire when, at the age of 38, he sold the farm, uprooted his family and moved to England, where he devoted himself to his poetry. His first two books of verse, A Boy's Will (1913) and North of Boston (1914), were immediate successes. In 1915 he returned to the United States and continued to write while living in New Hampshire and then Vermont. His pastoral images of apple trees and stone fences -- along with his solitary, man-of-few-words poetic voice -- helped define the modern image of rural New England. Frost's poems include "Mending Wall" ("Good fences make good neighbors"), "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening" ("Whose woods these are I think I know"), and perhaps his most famous work, "The Road Not Taken" ("Two roads diverged in a wood, and I-- / I took the one less traveled by"). Frost was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for poetry four times: in 1924, 1931, 1937 and 1943. He also served as "Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress" from 1958-59; that position was renamed as Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry (or simply Poet Laureate) in 1986.
Frost recited his poem "The Gift Outright" at the 1961 inauguration of John F. Kennedy... Frost attended both Dartmouth College and Harvard, but did not graduate from either school... Frost preferred traditional rhyme and meter in poetry; his famous dismissal of free verse was, "I'd just as soon play tennis with the net down."
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