Robert Frost is one of the greatest of American poets. He received more honors than any other contemporary literary figure in America. Four times he was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for poetry. He was given honorary degrees by more than forty colleges and universities.
Frost as a poet
Frost has won worldwide fame and recognition as a poet. The first thing that strikes the eye is the extreme simplicity of his poetry. He writes on the simplest themes in the most easy and simple manner. Due to this he is appreciated by the readers. They go to him again and again without any trouble. A careful reading of his poems reveals that he is extraordinary, subtle and intricate. They have a rich texture. There we find layers within the layers of meaning. He makes extensive use of symbols to convey profound truths. In this respect he can be compared with Eliot, Yeats, Pound and Auden.
Frost’s Treatment of Rural Life
Frost is a great pastoral poet. He writes of rural people, occupations, events and situations. For that he uses the simple colloquial language of country folk. In his poetry we do not find the city scenery and city people. His personages are all new Englanders. His poetry is the record of their character and habits. It is also the record of the various aspects of their lives and activities, their beliefs, ideals, traditions and codes of conduct. Frost achieved success in capturing the simplicity and naturalness of the earliest Greek masters of pastoral poetry. He has succeeded in imparting universal validity and significance to pastoral art.
Robert Frost as a regional poet
Robert Frost is a great regional poet. The particular region that Frost has selected for his purposes is the North of Boston. This region forms the background to his poetry. Its people, its scenes and sights appear and reappear in his successive poems. They impart a rare continuity and unity to his works. Frost interpreted this region accurately, realistically and precisely. He has succeeded in capturing the very tone, diction, idiom, accent, rhythm and phraseology of the conversation of new Englanders. The very spirit of the place is enshrined in his pages. A strong link is established between the individual mind and the land itself. In other words, frost’s recognition is thoroughly social.
Robert Frost’s Treatment of Nature
Frost is a great nature poet. He writes of the natural scenes and sights, flora and fauna and hills and dales. Like Wordsworth his love of nature is limited to nature in a particular region, the North of Boston. But unlike Wordsworth he loves both her pleasant and unpleasant aspects. He enjoys her sensuous beauty but he does not shut his eyes to her harshness, barrenness and cruelty. His approach is realistic. In other words, Frost does not idealise or romanticise nature. He gives us the truth about her. Nature for him is not a kindly mother watching benevolently over man. He does not find any holy plan of nature for the good of mankind. In his view nature and man are two separate principles.
Robert Frost as a Poet of Man
Frost is a poet of man too. People in his poetry are all rural Englanders. His portrayal of them is realistic and vivid. He pictures man as a stranger in an indifferent world. His poetry deals with isolated and alienated people. It seems that Frost takes a gloomy view of man’s earthly existence. But he cannot be condemned as a pessimist. In fact, he is a realist and that’s why he does not shut his eyes to the evil, sorrow and suffering in man’s life. His approach is never cynical and nihilistic. In short, his approach to life and its problems is sane and healthy; his philosophy is ripe and mature.
Robert Frost as a Lyricist
His genius was essentially lyrical. His lyrics have simplicity, brevity and intensity. His lyrics may be divided into two broad categories. The lyrics of the first group are short, personal and subjective. In them poet’s personality is fully unfolded. They are an expression of the poet’s own mood and emotions. Secondly, there are dramatic lyrics of Browning type. Here the poet effaces himself completely and speaks through some imagined characters.
Frost’s Poetic Style
In Frost’s poetry we get extreme simplicity and clarity. He wrote in everyday speech. His language is simple but highly suggestive. He is a great artist with words. Through a proper arrangement of words he tried to produce all kinds of effects. His diction is full of variety. It is dramatic. It varies from character to character. His conversational language is regional. His symbolism is also interesting. In short, Frost is a great metrical artist.
Thus Robert Frost is a matchless poet who has left behind him many excellent poems. His contribution to the American poetry is praiseworthy. It would be better to keep him in the category of genius.