Robert Frost (1874-1963) came into my life when I was just 15. I was introduced to him by a woman who I will never forget and whom I hero-worshipped – Sister David, our English Literature teacher in school. Through her I met and fell in love with so many writers and poets but somehow, Frost seemed to make a special place in my heart.
Students of literature are taught 2 sides of the coin. The first is to see a work in the context of the writer’s life and times. The second is to see it standing alone, a face-to-face encounter between the reader and the writer.
Robert Frost won 4 Pulitzer prizes for Poetry and if America had the concept of Poet Laureate, he would have probably been bestowed that honour as many times. But even if you didn’t know any of that – and I certainly didn’t – his poems shine right through straight into your heart.
Perhaps many Indians know (or don’t!) Frost because these lines that were Jawaharlal Nehru’s favourite
“The woods are lovely, dark and deep
But I have promises to keep
And miles to go before I sleep…”
But my favourites are
“The way a crow shook down on me
The dust of snow from a hemlock tree
Has given my heart a change of mood
And saved some part of a day I rued.” (Dust of Snow)
It's when I'm weary of considerations,
And life is too much like a pathless wood
Where your face burns and tickles with the cobwebs
Broken across it, and one eye is weeping
From a twig's having lashed across it open.
I'd like to get away from earth awhile
And then come back to it and begin over.
May no fate wilfully misunderstand me
And half grant what I wish and snatch me away
Not to return. Earth's the right place for love:
I don't know where it's likely to go better.
I'd like to go by climbing a birch tree…” (Birches)