The Magazine

A Touch of the Poet

The random wisdom of Robert Frost.

Oct 9, 2006, Vol. 12, No. 04 • By WILLIAM H. PRITCHARD
Widget tooltip
Single Page Print Larger Text Smaller Text Alerts

The editor cautions us to be wary of the "seductive finality" of some of the entries, and this is best done by trying to see the aphorisms and epigrams in the light of others that qualify or even contradict the one in question. Frost notes that "the tone of plain statement is one tone and not to be despised. All the same it has been my great object in poetry to avoid the use of it." These notebooks testify to how hard he worked at not being easily understood: "I should like to be so subtle at this game," he wrote in the letter quoted at the beginning of this review, "as to seem to the casual person altogether obvious."

For the game, which he played over 60 years, the following entry may stand as a motto: "I have made a life study out of what I can say."

William H. Pritchard is professor of English at Amherst.