The ‘Quiet Passion and Spiritual Tenderness’ of Robert Frost

 In Lifestyle

The timeless American poet was born 142 years ago today. Frost was plainspoken, pastoral, coolly melancholy, and as easy to misread as he is to quote. He shares these attributes with A.E. Housman, an English poet also born on March 26. And they’re in good company: It’s also the birthday of Sandra Day O’Connor, Diana Ross, and Leonard Nimoy, among other illustrious folks. If any day’s events were to make me believe in astrology, it would be the birthdays of March 26.

But back to Frost. He was born in 1874 in San Francisco and suffered an unstable childhood and young adulthood marked by depression, frustration, and loss: the death of a father, the death of a child. As James Dickey writes in our November 1966 issue, he “settle[d] on poetry as a way of salvation” and pursued it “with a great deal of tenacity and courage but also with a sullen self-righteousness with which one can have but very little sympathy.”


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