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16 November 2006

Thank you, blogger on literature at THE READING EXPERIENCE (Merely Literary)
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At the bottom of this post, I end it with a poem of my own. The review quoted is of an edited collection of Robert Frost's letters. This shows the Financial Times continues to offer solid lit-crit.

The Notebooks of Robert Frost
edited by Robert Faggen
The Belknap Press 25.95 pounds, 848 pages
FT bookshop price: 20.76 pds

The review of R. Faggen's editing of the collection was titled and credited:

Poetic justice

By Mark Ford

Published: November 3 2006 13:20

Difficult poetry of the kind championed by Eliot “butters no parsnips”, as Frost observed to a friend . . .

While those such as Eliot and Stevens shivered with distaste at the idea of writing poetry that was intelligible to the masses, Frost was determined to evolve a style that would appeal both to an average poetry consumer and, through its secret equivocations, to the more discerning reader. Ideally, it would educate the former, and transform them into the latter. His stay in England taught him much about literary politics; he established a firm friendship with Edward Thomas, skirmished sceptically with Pound and Yeats, and had his first two books published.

In 1915 Frost returned to the US as something of a celebrity, and shrewdly set about cultivating on the one hand a popular audience and, on the other, the esteem of influential critics.

The Notebooks of Robert Frost offer an intriguing insight into Frost’s mind.

Here is a poem I wrote about Robert Frost:

Robert Frost
Howling at the Moon

by Blogaulaire

Robert Frost not only
Owned five farms
He possessed them.

And they possessed him.

He knew he had to write
About the lives
As if undivided.

He gave up his,
Perhaps Elinor's too,
In trying his hand
At poetry.

What killed Frost
Was him falling to an
American Lit class
Walling him in.

Over half New England's
Human farm life
Moved to town
When the skeletons
In Frost's attic
Came down.

Which occurred in Canada too,
The Midwest went through it
With poets galore
Gloriously unaware.

Things got confused
More wars ensued
Frost would never
Come unglued
It didn't happen . . .
Is happening still.

You need an ideology
And suburbs
And outer space
To escape such gnawing terror
R. F. wouldn't face.

As we were taught
Everything in
That confusion
Driven away
From thought.

But turn away from
Frost or even textbook poets,
You'll be scorched if they ever burn them.

Who would say Frost
"Didn't know what's American."
Some folks would in retribution
If they understood him.

What a fool who knows true America.
You are barking up the wrong tree.
America's a big place, maybe
Bigger than two can see.

No poet can guide you
Till you see a storm brew.

Be done with it, move on.
Put your heart and hand in it.

R. F. will be lamp-lit
When I return,
To his farm.

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