One of the most widely read and respected poets of the 20th century in the United States, Robert Frost received so many honorary degrees (27) a friend made the commencement hoods into a quilt.  He was the first poet to recite at a presidential inaugural and is the only poet to have won four Pulitzer Prizes.  His great popularity contributed to a new consciousness and patronage of contemporary poets and writers in the 20th and 21st centuries.  “What began in obscurity is ending in a blaze of publicity,” Frost quipped.  The poet Daniel Hoffman wrote:

 

"He became a national celebrity, our nearly official Poet Laureate, and a great performer in the tradition of that earlier master of the literary vernacular, Mark Twain."

Some of Frost’s fame stemmed from the many entertaining “talks” he gave, often in college towns before mixed crowds of students, faculty, and local citizens.  Before reading or “saying” his poems, he would allow himself “a little say-so” about whatever was on his mind.  These general audiences witnessed some of his broadest thinking and humor.  Was the platform performer the man?  No.  He said if you really wanted to know him, “read his complete works.”  He disliked attempts by critics to categorize him, classifying himself simply as a poet who “wanted to be understood” and whose ambition was “to lodge a few poems where they will be hard to get rid of.”  Frost biographer and poet, Jay Parini, summed up the man this way…

"...a loner who liked company; a poet of isolation who sought a mass audience; a rebel who sought to fit in. Although a family man to the core, he frequently felt alienated from his wife and children and withdrew into reveries. While preferring to stay at home, he traveled more than any poet of his generation to give lectures and readings, even though he remained terrified of public speaking to the end."

Robert Frost once said “In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: it goes on.”

"He has bequeathed his nation a body of imperishable verse from which Americans will forever gain joy and understanding." 

John F. Kennedy

jfk.jpg