Robert Frost – the great New England poet, who won four Pulitzer Prizes – died 53 years ago today, on January 29, 1963.
Frost’s reputation has been on the rise. At the time of his death, he was often regarded as a simple chronicler of New England folkways, “the homespun bard of stony walls and snowy evenings,” the New York Times observed. But in recent years, critics have dug deeper and found “a bleak and unforgiving modernist.”
Frost’s best-known poem has also been a subject of debate. Some regard “The Road Not Taken” as a bold affirmation of individualism, while others have seen in it a gentle mockery of self-professed rebels. The poet David Orr argued last year in his book The Road Not Taken: Finding America in the Poem Everyone Loves and Almost Everyone Gets Wrong that it is a bit of both.
Here is Frost reading the poem, in what one biographer called his "rough-hewn New England accent":