Robert Lee Frost (March 26, 1874 - January 29, 1963) was an American lyric poet, winner of four Pulitzer poetry prizes, whose work evokes nature as embodied in the rural New England countryside. His poetry, in keeping with the nature of its subject matter, employed simple, straightforward, common language to express uncommon thoughts about everyday events. In time, he became one of America's best known - and best loved - poets.
Born in San Francisco, he moved with his family to Massachusetts upon the death of his father in 1885. Although he would travel frequently and widely in later years, New England would be his home for the rest of his life, even when he was away from her.
He took up the writing of poetry in high school where he also developed an interest in botany, graduating in 1892 as co-valedictorian together with the young lady whom he would marry three years later. They would stay married until her death 43 years later.
Frost briefly attended Dartmouth, and later Harvard, but left without completing the degree requirements. He never would obtain a college degree and later remarked: "The only educationi worth anything is self-education".
Beginning in 1899, and continuing through the first decade of the 20th century, Frost was engaged in farming in Derry, New Hampshire, writing poetry, teaching English in a local high school academy, and attempting to secure publication, to no avail, of his poetry.
Finally, in 1911, after selling the farm, Frost moved, with his family, to England, a change which would result in the launching of his career as one of the great poets of the 20th century. For it was here that he, after so many fruitless years of trying, finally found a publisher for A Boy's Will, his first published work in book form. This work consisted of 32 poems, many written during his years on the Derry farm. Frost was 39 years old.
Soon thereafter, Frost met Ezra Pound who, taking a copy of A Boy's Will, read it and wrote a favorable review. From this time on, Frost's career as a poet was on an almost continual upward trend. The following year, building upon his success, North of Boston was published. The lead poem in this small collection, Mending Wall, was and remains one of Frost's best-loved poems.
Frost, having finally found publishing success, returned to the United States and, the following year (1916) his third collection, Mountain Interval, was published. Once again the lead poem in the collection - The Road Not Taken - would prove to be one of his enduring creations. This collection also contained one other popular favorite - Birches.
With success and popular acclaim came not only financial security, but also increasing demands on his time. Over the remainder of his life, Frost undertook several teaching stints - at Amherst, the University of Michigan, Harvard, and Dartmouth - as well as numerous lectures, appearances, and readings.
Then, in 1961, Frost was asked to do a reading at the inauguration of President John F. Kennedy. During the election campaign the previous Fall, candidate Kennedy had ended his campaign speeches by quoting a line from one of Frost's poems: "I have miles to go before I sleep". The quotation comes from the closing lines of Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening. For the reading itself, Frost chose The Gift Outright.