… died 44-years ago today, at age 88. The occasion of Frost’s death was headline news worldwide, and even noted by then-President Kennedy, at whose inauguration Frost recited his poem The Gift Outright.

Times have changed, no? Is there today a living poet whose name is known to every American? And whose verse is comprehensible?

No, there is not. Indeed, one wonders whether Frost could even find a publisher today.

It is probably no accident that Frost was so well-known; he had a deep, emphatic dislike for the artsy-craftsy crowd and wanted to reach a popular audience. From a November 5, 1913 letter to a friend:

There is one qualifying fact always to bear in mind: there is a kind of success called “of esteem” and it butters no parsnips. It means a success with the critical few who are supposed to know. But really to arrive where I can stand on my legs as a poet and nothing else I must get outside that circle to the general reader who buys books in their thousands. I may not be able to do that. I believe in doing it — don’t you doubt me there. I want to be a poet for all sorts and kinds. I could never make a merit of being caviare to the crowd the way my quasi-friend Pound does. I want to reach out, and would if it were a thing I could do by taking thought.

Notice that last sentence: I want to reach out, and would if it were a thing I could do by taking thought. Frost, in the pre-mass media, pre-mass manipulation days, managed to find his audience anyway. But, then, unlike those who require PR Experts to get noticed, he had real talent and something to say.

Bob Felton
www.CivilCommotion.com

Be Sociable, Share!