Robert Frost is perhaps one of the most quoted poets ever. His poetry has inspired everyone from world leaders like John F. Kennedy to writers like George R.R. Martin.
Born March 26, 1874, Robert Frost became known for his ability to transform the mundane with his clever turns of phrase. In honor of his birthday, here are 5 fascinating facts you might not know about Robert Frost.
1. Frost dropped out of college—twice
Robert Frost started off his college career at Dartmouth before dropping out a mere two months later. As the poet later explained, "I wasn't suited for that place." But Frost seemed to have a taste for the Ivy League, because he went on to enroll at Harvard.
Here, he had better luck and managed to stay enrolled for two years before dropping out to support his family. Robert Frost did end up getting a degree much later, in 1937, when Harvard bestowed him with honorary honors.
2. Frost moved to England in search of literary success
By the time he hit 40, Frost had only managed to print a single work—and that was while he'd been enrolled at Dartmouth. Robert Frost found himself frustrated and creatively stymied and made the radical decision to move to England in search of better literary horizons.
Frost sold his farm in Derry and moved across the pond. Here, publishers proved to be more welcoming and he was able to rub shoulders with other American expat poets like Ezra Pound. In a span of two years, from 1913 to 1914, Robert Frost managed to publish two books, both of which contained what would become some of his most famous pieces.
3. Frost's famous poem is often misunderstood
"The Road Not Taken" is often read at high-school and college graduations as a reminder to new graduates to forge their own paths. However, the truth behind the famous poem is quite surprising: Robert Frost wrote it as a joke for a friend.
Frost enjoyed taking long walks with his good friend Edward Thomas, and liked to tease Thomas for being so indecisiveness about which direction or path to take. "The Road Not Taken" was written as an ode to this private joke between friends. Frost was surprised when, instead, it was interpreted as a metaphor for self-determination.
4. Frost was the first poet to read at a presidential inauguration
Amanda Gorman made waves with her reading of her incredible poem "The Hill We Climb" at President Biden's inauguration recently. But way back in 1961, Robert Frost was the first poet ever to read at a presidential inauguration when John F. Kennedy took office.
Frost was meant to read a poem he'd prepared for the occasion called "Dedication," Due to the sun's glare, he couldn't see the words and ended up reciting another piece titled "The Gift Outright," from memory. As the first poet to read at a presidential inauguration, he paved the way for other poets to do the same.
5. The inscription on Frost's gravestone is from his own poetry
As one of the most iconic American poets to have ever lived, it makes sense that Frost's epitaph would come from one of the many iconic poems he penned. Robert Frost died on January 29th, 1963 and the words "I had a lover's quarrel with the world" were inscribed on his gravestone.
This snippet is from the last line of his poem "The Final Lesson for Today":
Have you read Robert Frost's work? Share your favorite poem in the comments below!