資料彙整   /   作家  /  Robert  Frost  羅伯.佛洛斯特
Robert  Frost
羅伯.佛洛斯特
圖片來源:http://www.pro-net.co.uk/home/catalyst/RF/
主要文類:Poem
資料提供者:Kate Liu/劉紀雯;Ray Schulte/蕭笛雷;Edward Vargo;Kevin Yao/姚凱元
關鍵字詞:Modern and Contemporary American Poetry;Introduction to Literature: Poetry VI: Society (1998)

羅伯.佛洛斯特

1874-1963

 
    以新英格蘭詩人著稱。他的詩結合其詩人/農夫與哲學家的特色:既清晰、簡單、自然,富哲理,又根著於新英格蘭的土地上,描繪自然與人的存在。

    雖然佛洛斯特的詩名以及他自我認同的原鄉在東部新英格蘭,他卻是生長於西部太平洋岸的舊金山。一直到他11歲父親去世後,佛洛斯特與母親才遷往新英格蘭。寫詩對佛洛斯特來說,是一種「暫時阻擋混亂」("momentary stay against confusion")的藝術,並且可將其失序的現實生活,重新納入正軌。因此,佛洛斯特不僅帶給世人詩的全新風貌,並且藉著寫詩排解他的不安、焦慮與重整生命中的秩序,達到一種和諧的境地。

    佛洛斯特出生於1874326日。父親威廉.普里斯科特.佛洛斯特(William Prescott Frost Jr.)畢業於哈佛大學後,旋即進入賓州的一所學校任職,結識了同是教師的蘇格蘭裔的伊莎貝拉.苜狄(Isabella Moodie),並娶她為妻。兩人婚後便遷居舊金山。父親雖轉業為報社記者與編輯期望增加家中收入,卻因酗酒問題嚴重影響健康,母親便肩負起家庭的重擔並在家中教導小佛洛斯特。伊莎貝拉並不要求佛洛斯特按照規定上學,而是順著他的個性,充分發展他獨立的人格,這卻也造成日後佛洛斯特個性孤癖、不安於工作,以及無法拿到學校文憑。

    父親於1885年去世後,伊莎貝拉在其父的安排下,帶著佛洛斯特前往新英格蘭。1892年佛洛斯特畢業於勞倫斯高中,並且是當屆的學生詩人(Class Poet)以及致告別辭的代表。與其一起致告別辭的女同學,愛莉諾.梅麗安.懷特(Elinor Miriam White)3年後成為佛洛斯特的妻子。佛洛斯特當時便立志成為一位詩人,並已發表他的第一首詩 "La Noche Triste"1892年,祖父希望他從事律師工作,並安排進入達斯茅斯學院(Darmouth College)。由於個性使然,佛洛斯特放棄在達斯茅斯學院的課業,繼續詩歌創作。這段期間,他筆耕不綴,但作品不斷遭到退稿。直到20(1894)時,詩作〈我的蝴蝶:輓歌〉("My Butterfly, an Elegy")刊登於《紐約獨立報》(The New York Independent),並得到一筆15元的稿費。自此,他深信寫詩可以維持生計。佛洛斯特為表慶祝,將他的詩作自費印刷成書,提名為《曦光》(Twilight)。他只印了2本,一本自己保留,另外一本獻給愛莉諾。由於她並不領情,佛洛斯特失望之餘便銷毀了其中一本。這個事件也預示了往後婚姻生活所帶來的衝突與張力。

    佛洛斯特與愛琳諾於1895年結婚。這個婚姻卻帶給佛洛斯特極大的困擾,也影響了日後佛洛斯特詩中的主題與語調。愛琳諾孤僻、冷淡,佛洛斯特也日漸自我孤立,因此兩人的婚姻關係緊張,直到1938年愛琳諾去世。並且婚後,兩人皆任教職。佛洛斯特為了更進一步的教學,以特別生進入哈佛大學研習。在研習的2年間,佛洛斯特獲得古典語言的知識與威廉.詹姆士(William James)哲學的啟發。但一如往常,他放棄學位,離開學校,追尋成為詩人的道路。長子艾略特(Elliot)1900年夭折,佛洛斯特夫妻兩人的關係更是雪上加霜。佛洛斯特的祖父便於新漢普郡的德瑞(Derry)買下一座農場,為的是讓夫婦倆忘記喪子之痛,並希望佛洛斯特能好好的工作照顧家庭。

    德瑞農場的這段期間(1900-1909)可說是佛洛斯特一生中最富於創造力的時期。在農場,詩人直接接觸了新英格蘭的鄉野生活,這也提供他日後詩作中不斷出現的自然意象。但這段期間,佛洛斯特面臨親人死亡:母親、大兒子以及祖父於1900、1901年先後病逝。這些打擊使得詩人陷入低潮,重新思考生命以及自身存在的意義,並轉化心中的悲傷於詩的創作。如同他說的,以詩歌「暫時阻擋混亂」。詩作 "Home Burials"便是此時期為了悼念長子之死而作。

    隨著日漸增加的子女,佛洛斯特家中的經濟負擔也日益沈重,再加上詩作不被賞識,不斷遭到退稿,佛洛斯特變賣農場後,便帶著一家前往英國,希望「繼續寫詩而不致因為貧窮使家庭蒙羞」("write and be poor without further scandal in the family")。停留英國的這段期間(1912-1915),成為詩人佛洛斯特一生詩業中最重要的起點。1913年《男兒之志》(The Boy's Will)出版,詩人龐德(Ezra Pound)給予相當好評。這部詩集主要是詩人寫給妻子的情詩,但是詩中的主題卻充斥著對自然界中非人性的他者(nonhuman otherness)的恐懼與不確定感。1914年在龐德的幫助下,出版《波士頓以北》(North of Boston)。此詩集不但迅速走紅大西洋兩岸,並且成為佛洛斯特無韻詩(blank verse)詩藝的最佳代表。成名後,佛洛斯特將自己塑造成一位質樸、溫柔的新英格蘭莊園詩人,並以此形象穩固了他在美國文學史上獨特的地位。

    成名之後的佛洛斯特,不斷受邀至各地演說、朗誦,接受許多大學的邀請擔任教職以及駐校詩人。此間他也出版了許多重要的詩集。1916年出版的《山窪》Mountain Interval收錄有著名的自傳體式的詩作〈未曾踏足之路〉("The Road Not Taken")等。而1923年出版的《詩選》(Selected Poems)與《新漢普郡》(New Hampshire)為他贏得生平四座普立茲獎中的第一座。這兩部詩集是由許多短詩集結而成,詩中結合戲劇性張力以及大自然意象中的矛盾來與人內在的陰暗面對話。而詩集當中一般讀者最耳熟能詳的就是〈雪夜林畔小駐〉("Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening")。本詩用語簡單,格律嚴謹,意境則深入淺出,狀似寫景,卻別有寓意。藉由描繪冬夜旅人駐足林畔,點出生命的選擇:抗拒死亡,完成未竟之業。

    佛洛斯特生命中的打擊再次降臨,他必須再次面對親人摯愛的死與別離:他最鍾愛的女兒馬嘉烈(Marjorie)死於1934年,妻子愛莉諾病逝於1938年,臨終之時還拒絕佛洛斯特進入病房。兒子卡羅(Carol)1940年自殺身亡。這一連串的打擊,幾乎使得詩人有尋死的念頭,「但我還要守一些諾言,/ 還要趕多少路才安眠,/ 還要趕多少路才安眠」。詩作《見證樹》(A Witness Three)見證詩人走過生命低潮,佛洛斯特並將此詩集獻給幫助他走過人生低潮的凱薩林.莫理森(Kathleen Morrison)。而這段時間,詩人獲頒3 座普立茲獎,接受許多榮銜。生命最後的二十年裡,佛洛斯特身為詩人與老師,巡迴各大學院校,演講朗誦,並筆耕不綴,在他已高齡89歲時,還出版詩集In the Clearing。佛洛斯特於1961年甘乃迪總統的就職典禮上,獲邀朗誦其詩作〈全心的奉獻〉("The Gift Outright"),成為詩人一生中最為榮耀的時刻。1963129日佛洛斯特於麻州的波士頓與世長辭。

    佛洛斯特對現代詩的貢獻,如同他在〈未曾踏足之路〉中所描述的,在於他選擇了抗拒自由詩體(free verse)的潮流,探索結合詩體與新藝術形式的可能性:無韻詩體(blank verse)。詩人自由運用傳統的抑揚格韻律結合日常生活話語的自然韻律感,創造了一種具戲劇張力,宛若口語,卻深具哲理節奏的詩的語言。使用傳統的形式就如同老店重新開張,尊傳統詩體為詩的精髓,但另一方面,佛洛斯特保留了自由詩體的自由與自然,如同「打一場沒有網子的網球賽」。對佛洛斯特而言,一首好詩應該「始於喜悅,止於智慧」,因此詩的語言可以將混亂的現實轉化為秩序。新英格蘭田園詩人佛洛斯特選擇了一條較少人走的路,最終卻實現了自我期待,化解生命中的不安與矛盾。

 

   
 
   

 

Robert (Lee) Frost

1874-1963

 
       One of the foremost American poets of the twentieth century, Robert Frost is famous for his folksy and rustic portrayal of New England. Although his poetic career established him as a successful poet in the world, his life, in fact, is full tension, crises, and reconciliation of both. Poetry, for Frost, is a "momentary stay against confusion." His poetry offers not only the readers a pleasure of reading blank verse poems, but also himself a way to resume order in life.
 
 Beginning

 Success Abroad in England 1912-1915

 Back to United States: his position as a poet in American letters had been firmly rooted

 Great Depression of the 30's and the passing depression of the 40's

 The Last Year

 New England poet: Frost's idea about poetry and his contributions

 
 Beginning
 

Born in San Francisco, California, on March 26, 1874, Frost died on January 29, 1963, in Boston, Massachusetts. He was the first son of William Prescott Frost Jr. (a newspaper reporter and editor) of New Hampshire and Isabella Moodie (a teacher) of Scotland. After his father died in 1885, the Frost family were arranged by the maternal grandfather to move to Lawrence, Massachusetts.

A. His education: a starting point of confusion, isolation and loneliness

  1. Frost was mostly taught by his mother. Under his mother's way of teaching, which filled him with tales of heroism but also indulged his lack of discipline, aversion to work, and dislike of school, Frost has his conflicting nature forged at such an early stage.
  2. Occasional attendance at Darmouth College (1892) and Harvard (1897-99), and a variety of different jobs marked the next twenty years.
  3. In Harvard, Frost learned the classical languages and the philosophy of William James.
  4. Because of his childhood experience of loneliness and his mother's teaching and indulgence, Frost had to deal with uncertainty and confusion in his life.

B. A turning point in high school years: the birth of a Poet

  1. When he was 16, Frost decided to be a poet. His first poem, "La Noche Triste," was published in the Lawrence High School bulletin.
  2. A class poet and co-valedictorian with Elinor White.
  3. At the age of 20, The New York Independent accepted his poem "My Butterfly, an Elegy," which launched his career as a professional poet with a check of $15.00.
  4. Published "The Birds Do Thus" in the Independent in1896.
  5. Unfortunately, his efforts in writing poetry did not bring him financial stability and literary fame.

C. Marriage with Elinor White at the age of 21: the tension not only persisted in their marriage until her death in 1938, but also affected the subject and tone of Frost's poetry.

  1. Elinor took no notice of his first published poem (Twilight), so Frost felt frustrated and destroyed the copy.
  2. Their marriage was strained by her silence and his self-centeredness.

D. The Derry period: 1900-1909
This period of time was among the most artistically creative of Frost's life. It also offered Frost the first real taste of rural New England life. However, at this moment Frost did not really identify himself as a farmer-poet as he acclaimed later in his life.

  1. His grandfather's help: worrying about his job; set up a farm for him.
  2. Suicidal crisis for Frost: loss of two dearly people. His mother and his first-born son Elliot died in 1900 and his grandfather died in the following year. His son's death triggered for the poem entitled "Home Burials," which published in North of Boston, 1914.
  3. Using poetry to release his depression, to provide a "momentary stay against confusion."
  4. Because of the rejection of the editors of American magazines, he took his family to England, where he could "write and be poor without further scandal in the family" and win more acceptance of his poetry.

 

TOP

 Success Abroad in England 1912-1915
  A. England: an intellectually stimulating environment to advance Frost's poetry.

B. In 1913, he published The Boy's Will. Ezra Pound reviewed it favorably.

  1. The poems, basically, is a collection of love lyrics written to Elinor, but it also looks at the theme of fear and uncertainty in the face of nature's nonhuman otherness. The collection includes "Mowing," "Storm Fear," "Into My Own."

C. With the help of Pound, Frost published North of Boston in 1914, which marked the turning point in his art career.

  1. While Pound, Eliot, and other poets revolutionized the writing of modern poetry by applying free verse, Frost added "sentence sounds," or the irregular rhythms of speech in this collection of poems. It marked Frost's major contribution to American poetry, that is, blank verse, the examples of which include "The Wood-Pile," "After Apple-Picking," "Home Burial."

TOP

 Back to United States: his position as a poet in American letters had been firmly rooted.
  A. Frost began carefully to construct a mask of the gentle farmer-poet, using art to order his life.

B. From this time, Frost received many honors as a poet and as a teacher at several colleges.

C. Important works

  1. Published Mountain Interval in 1916, including "Birches," "The Road Not Taken," "The Oven Bird," and "An Old Man's Winter Night."
  2. His only one-act play A Way Out in 1917.
  3. Published Selected Poems and New Hampshire (won him the first Pulitzer Prize out of the three) in 1923
    1. These two collection of poems are the short lyrics that combine dramatic tension and the ambiguities of nature imagery to communicate a dark world view, including "A Star in a Stoneboat," "Two Witches," "Fire and Ice," and "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening," which becomes his "best bid for remembrance."

TOP

 Great Depression of the 30's and the passing depression of the 40's 
  A. Death and Loss
  1. Death of his favorite daughter Marjorie in 1934
  2. Death of his wife Elinor in 1938. The long-term tension between Frost and Elinor ended with Elinor's refusal to let Frost visit her at her dying bed.
  3. His son Carol committed suicide in 1940.

B. Important works at this period

  1. Published Collected Poem of Robert Frost (second Pulitzer Prize) in 1930
  2. Published A Further Range in 1936, which won him the third Pulitzers Prize.
  3. Published A Witness Three in 1942 (fourth Pulitzer Prize) dedicated to Kathleen Morrison, who helped Frost to overcome the death wish and encouraged him not to be beaten by depression. The poem includes "Beech," "All Revelation," "The Most of It," "November," "The Silken Tank," "The Subverted Flower," "The Rabbit Hunter," and "The Gift Outright" (a poem about the heritage and responsibilities of American citizens).
  4. Published A Masque of Reason in 1945
  5. Published A Masque of Mercy in 1947
  6. Published Steeple Bush in 1947

TOP

 The Last Year  
  Frost spent the last twenty years as a teacher and lecturer---at Amherst, at Darmouth, at Harvard, at the Bread Loaf School of English at Middlebury College in Vermont--- and in poetry readings and talks around the country.
  1. Published The Complete Poems of Robert Frost in 1949
  2. Reciting "The Gift Outright" in the inauguration of J. F. K. in 1961
  3. Published In the Clearing in 1962, including "The Draft Horse" and "In Winter in the Woods"
  4. Frost died on January 29, 1963 in Boston, Massachusetts.

TOP

 New England poet: Frost's idea about poetry and his contributions
 
  1. His contributions rest on his masterful uniting of iambic meter with the freedom of the spoken voice, which means Frost experiments with his style of setting traditional meter with natural rhythms of speech.
  2. In style, Frost loves "the old way of being new." For him, the traditional form is the essence of poetry, materials with which poets respond to flux and disorder by forging something permanent. "Writing free verse," Frost thinks, "was like playing tennis without a net." A good poem "begins in delight and ends in wisdom."

TOP

Reference

American Decades CD-ROM. Gale Research, 1998. Reproduced in Biography Resource Center. Farmington Hills, Mich.: The Gale Group. 2001. (http://galenet.galegroup.com/servlet/BioRC)

Authors and Artists for Young Adults. Vols. 7-26. Gale Research, 1992-99. Reproduced in Biography Resource Center. Farmington Hills, Mich.: The Gale Group. 2001. (http://galenet.galegroup.com/servlet/BioRC)

Baym, Nina and Franklin Wayne Eds. The Norton Anthology of American
Literature
. Shorter 5th ed. New York: Norton, 1994.

Contemporary Authors Online. The Gale Group, 2000. Reproduced in Biography Resource Center. Farmington Hills, Mich.: The Gale Group. 2001. (http://galenet.galegroup.com/servlet/BioRC)

Dictionary of American Biography, Supplement 7: 1961-1965. American Council of Learned Societies, 1981. Reproduced in Biography Resource Center. Farmington Hills, Mich.: The Gale Group. 2001. (http://galenet.galegroup.com/servlet/BioRC)

 

 

 

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