Do you have a lover’s quarrel with the world?


ROBERT FROST KNEW what he wanted to do with his life.

He wanted to write.

But, as it often does, life got in the way.

He couldn’t write.

He didn’t have time.

He had to eat.

So Robert Frost delivered newspapers, served as a cobbler, and worked in a factory as an arc light carbon filament changer.

Not much future there.

He dabbled with higher education, even attended Dartmouth and Harvard, but never earned a degree.

But in his heart, Robert Frost knew he was a poet, always saying, “I had to write poetry. I had a lover’s quarrel with the world.”

We are all better off because he dared listen to his heart. His poetry lives with us always.

Of his profession, Frost has left us these thoughts:

  • A poem begins in delight and ends in wisdom.
  • A poem begins with a lump in the throat, a sense of wrong, a homesickness, a lovesickness.
  • Poetry is when an emotion has found its thought and the thought has found words.
  • I have never started a poem yet whose end I knew. Writing a poem is discovering.
  • A poet never takes notes. You never take notes in a love affair.
  • Poets are like baseball pitchers. Both have their moments. The intervals are the tough things.
  • To be a poet is a condition, not a profession.
  • Poetry is a way of taking life by the throat.
  • Poetry is what gets lost in translation.
  • Writing free verse is like playing tennis with the net down.
  • Style is that which indicates how the writer takes himself and what he is saying. It is the mind skating circles around itself as it moves forward.

Of life, Frost left us these thoughts:

  • Don’t ever take a fence down until you know why it was put up.
  • Love is an irresistible desire to be irresistibly desired.
  • Education is the ability to listen to almost anything without losing your temper or your self-confidence.
  • Home is a place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in.
  • Half the world is composed of people who have something to say and can’t, and the other half who have nothing to say and keep on saying it.
  • A liberal is a man too broadminded to take his own side in a quarrel.
  • A jury consists of twelve persons chosen to decide who has the better lawyer.
  • A bank is a place where they lend you an umbrella in fair weather and ask for it back when it begins to rain.

Robert Frost was a master.

The poet/critic Randall Jarrell once wrote of him: “Do you have a lover’s quarrel with the world? No poet has ever written so well about the ordinary man; his wonderful dramatic monologues or dramatic scenes come out of a knowledge of people that few poets have had, and they are written in a verse that uses, sometimes, with absolute mastery, the rhythms of actual speech.”

In doing so, he spoke to and for us all.

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