INTO MY OWN: The English Years of Robert Frost 1912-1915 by John Evangelist Walsh

INTO MY OWN: The English Years of Robert Frost 1912-1915

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A meticulous account of how Frost, virtually unknown at the age of 38, moved to England in 1912 in one final and successful bid to establish himself as a poet. While Frost is widely recognized as having developed a distinctively regional American voice in verse, Walsh (The Hidden Life of Emily Dickinson; The Bones of St. Peter) points out the irony that this voice matured and came to public attention on British soil. The author recounts how Frost moved with his wife and four children to a London suburb in 1912 and began preparing his first serious booklength project. A Boy's Will was eventually accepted by a small London publisher, and though the offer was barely above the level of a standard vanity scam--Frost didn't pay for publication, but royalties were withheld--the offer amounted, in Frost's mind, to a first victory. A weak collection overall, and drawing on material largely composed in the US, A Boy's Will is by no means on a par with Frost's quick follow-up collection, written in England. North of Boston, published by the same small firm in 1914, included ""Mending Wall"" and ""Birches""--composed in England but strangely rooted in the American grain. As well as documenting this peculiar gestation of Frost's regional style, Walsh supplies a plausible portrait of the poet's domestic pressures and writing routines. Also of interest is Walsh's mapping of Frost's first important connections--including Ezra Pound, Harold Munro, and Thomas Edwards. Though Walsh neglects to provide the full, pre-WW I Georgian (Rupert Brooke et al.) context, of which Frost was briefly a part, this is nonetheless a sharply focused, convincing work.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1988
Publisher: Grove