poem index

book

North of Boston

Year

1914

Type

Poetry Book
North of Boston by Robert Frost (1914)

Born in San Francisco in 1874, Robert Frost is considered a poet of New England, where he spent most of his life. He was educated at both Dartmouth and Harvard colleges, and spent some time abroad where he met and befriended British poets including Ezra Pound, Edward Thomas, Rupert Brooke, and Robert Graves.

Published in 1914, North of Boston is the volume of poetry that established Robert Frost as a major force in modern poetry. Influenced by both his friendship with Ezra Pound and the regional speech and landscape of New England, the poems are marked by modern themes and concerns, dark impressions of early twentieth-century rural life, and the nature of tragedy. The poems are written exclusively in meter, and are often rhymed.

One of the most frequently read poems from North of Boston is "Mending Wall," which contains the oft repeated aphorism, "Good fences make good neighbors." However, taken out of context, this line nearly reverses Frost’s original meaning. Other notable poems in the collection include "Death of the Hired Man," "Home Burial," and "After Apple Picking."

North of Boston established Frost's understated, mature poetic voice, which simultaneously adhered to a formal tradition while quietly fighting the obvious, overstrained poetics of the time. His most frequently anthologized poems tend to misrepresent his oeuvre, painting him more as a regional poet than a modern master, which has led to many casual misreadings of his poetics. However, while Frost was immensely popular among the general public, he was also widely read and analyzed by modernist and formalist critics alike. The variety of responses to Frost’s work is astonishing, clearly establishing him as one of the greatest and most beloved poets of the twentieth century.

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