Friday, July 18, 2014

Summer Frost

I heard Robert Frost recite some of his poems in the park last night. Or so it seemed anyway. In truth, I heard Dr. John Anderson, associate professor of communication studies at Emerson College, impersonate the poet at the 15th annual Ashland Chautauqua in Ashland, Ohio. The theme this year is poetry and prose. Previous appearances this week were by Ted Geisel (Dr. Seuss) and Miep Gies, the woman who sheltered the Frank family in Amsterdam during World War II and who preserved Anne's diary after the family was captured and taken to prison camps. Still to come are Edith Wharton and C.S. Lewis.

Through Anderson, Frost recited several of his most familiar poems, A Road Not Taken, Mowing, Mending Wall, Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening, Birches and Fire and Ice among them. He also spoke about what he seeks to accomplish in his poetry, how he likes his poems to begin in delight and end in wisdom, or "in clarification of life" and "a momentary stay of confusion." He spoke of poetry as performance and as "a sound of sense."

He spoke, too, about the conflict in his poems, the opposing views expressed in the same works, the stress of order against wildness. An example is Mending Wall in which the phrases "something there is that doesn't love a wall" and "good fences makes good neighbors" each appear twice.

Frost appreciated the "beauty of the spoken language," one reason for the popularity of his poems even today. He didn't care for poetry that seemed too poetic or too literary. He favored lines that rhymed, unlike most poets of his generation, and poems that could be read and appreciated by ordinary readers, not just literary critics. Thus he could make a living by writing poetry and by giving public readings, much as he did last night, with a little help from John Dennis Anderson.

No comments:

Post a Comment