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Robert Frost’s Vermont home a literary Icon

By Johnny Molloy • Sep 23, 2018 at 6:00 AM

Imagine taking an autumn trip to New England to see the colorful leaves. And while you are up there, why not visit poet Robert Frost’s home in Vermont? “… And miles to go before I sleep, and miles to go before I sleep.” These are the final two lines of Robert Frost’s famous poem, “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening.” You can visit the very house where he wrote those memorable words, and many others, including parts of his Pulitzer winning poem collection entitled New Hampshire. He wrote “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” in June of 1923, ironically during the summer, yet you can easily imagine Frost traveling the winter landscape of South Shaftsbury, the location of this farm where he lived from 1920 to 1929. The house itself is significant, built in 1769, a colonial-style home unusually constructed primarily of stone. The house today remains much as it did during Frost’s stay. His farm once stretched over 80 acres, where he and his family grew apples among other endeavors. At the stone house, you can see the where Frost wrote “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” is dedicated to that poem. Other Frost exhibits lend insight into the New England farmer-turned-writer who became arguably America’s most notable 20th century poet. Frost took a roundabout way to get to this farm. The famed rural New Englander didn’t even reach the East until he was 12 years old, coming from San Francisco, his birthplace. His family landed in Lawrence, Massachusetts, where he graduated from high school and then went on to Dartmouth. By then writing was in his blood, and stayed there after his first poem, “My Butterfly: an Elegy,” was published. He married his high school sweetheart Elinor, and they began a family. Frost bounced around, ending up on a farm in New Hampshire where he adapted to, then embraced, and ultimately wrote about the rural life. His poems reflected this immersion in a way of life New Englander’s had lived since before this country was a country; the life of the farmer trying to make his way despite the rocky soils, the droughts, the insects and the cold, yet appreciating the beauty of the place and time. Wide-ranging success in the writing field eluded him until he moved to England, where he thought publishers would be more open to his writings. Frost was right. His association with and encouragement from writer Ezra Pound helped, too. There he published two poetry collections, A Boys Will and North of Boston. World War I drove him and his family back to America in 1915, where he returned to New Hampshire an acclaimed poet. Publishers now sought him, including the magazine Atlantic Monthly. The magazine had turned Frost’s submissions down previously, and when they requested material from him, Frost sent Atlantic Monthly the very same poems they had rejected! Frost also had plenty of offers to teach at universities, which he did throughout his life. In 1920, Frost decided to move to a warmer climate than the mountains of New Hampshire where he could cultivate apples and have more success in agricultural, arriving at the stone house in Vermont. Frost lived to be America’s venerated poet, winning four Pulitzer Prizes. He passed away in 1963, at age 88. Robert Frost is buried in nearby Bennington.

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