Monday, May 16, 2011

Robert Frost's "New Hampshire"

There are some excellent lines in Frost's New Hampshire, but generally I thought it was so bad that it was some hack writing about NH while thinking about Robert Frost or something. The idea is that New Hampshire has one of everything important - "just specimens" - but no more, so we don't have anything to sell - and that's a good thing, because selling things cheapens everyone.
...Did you but know of him, New Hampshire has
One real reformer who would change the world
So it would be accepted by two classes,
Artists the minute they set up as artists,
Before, that is, they are themselves accepted,
And boys the minute they get out of college.
I can't help thinking those are tests to go by.

And she has one I don't know what to call him,
Who comes from Philadelphia every year
With a great flock of chickens of rare breeds
He wants to give the educational
Advantages of growing almost wild
Under the watchful eye of hawk and eagle
Dorkings because they're spoken of by Chaucer,
Sussex because they're spoken of by Herrick.
The poem is long, that's just a bit of it, and perhaps that what put me off. I think of Frost in terms of the tight, terse "Road Less Traveled," or "Stopping By Woods." This one runs about 300 lines. There's loose scansion, but damned if I can find a rhyme scheme. But then, I dislike poetry in general, liking occasional lines but mostly finding it unrewarding.

My grandfather had him as an English teacher at Pinkerton Academy in the 'teens. He didn't think much of him, as Frost seemed unhappy to be in the job. Which according to his biographical information, he probably was.

1 comment:

Kurt said...

It sounds like you prefer the lyric Frost to what I'd call his "bardic" side. There are so many of those long poems, narratives, monologues, and rambling reflections (I'd put "New Hampshire" in that class). It has been years since I last read "New Hampshire" and most of the other long ones, but I always liked the narratives and monologues such as "Death of the Hired Man," "A Servant to Servants," and "Maple." In fact, when I had trouble deciding on a name for one of my dogs, I considered calling her "Maple" partly in tribute to that poem (but also because she is sort of a maple syrup and maple sugar color). As it was, I kept the name that they gave her at the humane society.

wv: actios