The first poem I ever committed to memory was Robert Frost’s, Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening. I first encountered it as a sophomore in high school almost 50 years ago, and I remember being moved by my teacher’s vocal rendition. I didn’t know then that I would still remember the poem so many years later. I now have less miles to go than I did in my youth, and the “dark and deep” are beginning to look lovelier.
Robert Frost (1874 – 1963) was an American poet who is highly regarded for his realistic depictions of rural life and his command of American colloquial speech. One of the most popular and critically respected American poets of the twentieth century, Frost was honored frequently during his lifetime, receiving four Pulitzer Prizes for Poetry. He became one of America’s rare “public literary figures, almost an artistic institution.” He was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal in 1960, and he read his poem “The Gift Outright” at the inauguration of President John F. Kennedy on January 20, 1961.
I have always enjoyed that the poem rhymes, as I generally find free verse harder to digest. As Frost famously remarked free verse was like “playing tennis without a net.” The poem is written in iambic tetrameter in the Rubaiyat stanza created by Edward Fitzgerald. Overall, the rhyme scheme is AABA-BBCB-CCDC-DDDD. Frost himself called the poem “my best bid for remembrance”.