19 April 2005

Thoughts on Frost

Remarks by Ezra Pound in 1931:

As a matter of history it should be stated that since 1912 Robert Frost had been producing New England Eclogues. Sincere, very dull, without tragedy, without emotion, without metrical interest, a faithful record of life without intellectual interest or any desire for anything not in it. The work, inferior to Crabbe, but infinitely better than fake. A great deal of New England life is presumably as Frost records it. It is difficult to see how such life differs greatly from that of horses and sheep.

I understand now why Randall Jarrell felt obliged to defend:

Back in the days when "serious readers of modern poetry" were most patronizing to Frost's poems, one was often moved to argument . . . In these days it's better . . . not much: the lips are pursed that ought to be parted, and they still pay lip-service, or little more. But Frost's best poetry . . . deserves the attention, submission, and astonished awe that real art always requires of us

I've never been wild about Frost, but I attribute that to my ignorance. Maybe all I object to is the adulation.

1 comment:

  1. I like Frost. He's accessible and wrote to be read/felt/understood. I think I am getting quite bloated on academics who think that obscure and unintelligible is superior to lucid and feeling work. Frost is 'old hat' now, but put in context, I believe he's one of the true greats of America (along with other uncomplicated artists) and I really think literary criticism sometimes sucks big time. Pound! Of all people! Get out the guns!