Sesame Club met March 26 in the Oak Room of the Pine Bluff Country Club. Donna Davis, president, presided and led the reading of the Collect.
Following the business meeting, Jo McKeown presented “Robert Frost,” the fifth poet in the series “Poets and Poetry.”
Other poets studied have been Emerson, Poe, Whitman and Dickinson. McKeown opened her program reading from Frost’s “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening.”
Robert Frost was born in San Francisco in 1874. After his father’s death in 1885, the family moved to Lawrence, Mass., where his grandfather was overseer at New England mill.
Frost, though later associated with rural life, grew up in the city. He published his first poem in his high school’s magazine. He attended Darthmouth College for two months, then returned home to teach and work at various jobs. He did not enjoy these jobs, feeling his calling was poetry.
In 1894, he sold his first poem, “My Butterfly, An Elegy: for $15. He married Elinor Miriam White, Dec. 19, 1895. They had four children — two died: Elliot of cholera and Elinor of birth complications.
Frost attended Harvard University from 1897 to 1899, but left due to illness. His grandfather bought a farm for the couple where Robert worked for nine years, writing early in the mornings, many of the poems that later made him famous. His farming was unsuccessful and he returned to teaching from 1906 to 1911.
In 1912, Frost took his family to Great Britain, settling in a small town outside London. He published his first book of poetry, “A Boy’s Will” the next year. In 1914, “North of Boston” was published.
When World War I began, he returned to America and bought a farm in New Hampshire. He began a career of writing, teaching and lecturing. This home is maintained today as The Frost Place, a museum and poetry conference site. From 1916 to to 1938, he taught at Amherst College in Massachusetts.
In 1924, he wrote the first of four Pulitzer Prizes,” New Hampshire: A Poem with Notes and Grace Noted.” Other Pulitzers were won for “Collected Poems” in 1931, ” A Further Range” in 1937 and “A Witness Tree” in 1943.
For 42 years, Frost taught at Bread Loaf School of English of Middlebury College. In 1921, he accepted a fellowship teaching post at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. His home there was bought by the Henry Ford Museum and relocated to Greenfield Village, Dearborn, Mich., for public tours.
Although he never graduated, Harvard’s 1965 alumni directory indicated Frost received an honorary degree.
President John Kennedy quoted Frost’s poems in his speeches. Often he closed conferences with “I have promises to keep and miles to go before I sleep.” Kennedy requested Frost compose a poem and read it at his 1960 inauguration. He wrote “Dedication” — later renamed “For John F. Kennedy His Inauguration.” As Frost began to read to poem, the sun’s glare made it impossible to see so he began to recite from memory another, earlier, poem “The Gift Outright.”
Its patriotic theme held the audience’s attention and at the end the crowd applauded and cheered the poet who was considered one of America’s most beloved and respected poets.
Decades after his death in 1963, he remains the most quoted poet in America and one of the best loved poet in the world. He is this country’s quintessential poet laureate. McKeown closed her program reading Frost’s “The Road Not Taken.”
Hostesses were Linda LaFrance, Jane Nixon and Vicki Taylor. Members were invited for refreshments to tables decorated with pots of bright tulips ringed with decorated eggs in green grass wreaths. The next meeting of Sesame Club will be the Spring Luncheon on April 30.