Who Was Robert Lee Frost?
Robert Lee Frost (March 26, 1874 – January 29, 1963) was an American poet born in San Francisco, California. He spent his first 40 years in relative obscurity. It wasn’t until he lived in England for a while and published his first works there that he was able to return to the United States at the beginning of World War I and achieve success as a poet.
What influenced Robert Frost? It was abroad that Frost met and was influenced by such contemporary British poets as Edward Thomas, Rupert Brooke, and Robert Graves. While in England, Frost also established a friendship with the poet Ezra Pound, who helped to promote and publish his work.
Known for his realistic depictions of rural life and his command of American colloquial speech, Frost frequently wrote about settings from rural life in New England in the early twentieth century, using them to examine complex social and philosophical themes. He eventually won four Pulitzer Prizes for his poetry and was considered by many to be the unofficial “poet laureate” of the U.S.
“The Road Not Taken” is by far Frost’s most famous work. In fact, experts consider it to be the most widely read and remembered American poem of the last century. Its iconic last lines have been repeated so often that some people think the title of the poem is actually “The Road Less Traveled.”
Poetry experts are quick to point out that it’s also likely the most misinterpreted poem of all time. If you read the poem carefully, it’s clear that there’s not much difference between the two roads. Frost describes one road as “just as fair” as the other and notes that travelers “[h]ad worn them really about the same.”
The title also provides a clue that everything may not be as it seems with Frost’s poem. Readers tend to focus on the road less traveled, since Frost says it “has made all the difference.” Yet he titles his poem “The Road Not Taken,” which should put our focus on the road that wasn’t taken.
Some scholars believe the poem can only be correctly interpreted in light of Frost’s inspiration: his walks through the English countryside with British poet Edward Thomas. Frost supposedly wrote the poem for Thomas as a gentle joke about Thomas’ tendency to regret whatever path they took on their walks.
Frost apparently didn’t believe in lamenting over what might have been. Perhaps his message to the reader is simply to focus on the path you choose and make the most of it.