Our cultural establishment's Grand Old Man is Robert Frost; as the national poet he picks up honors like leaves from the fields. Strangely enough, though, he has yet to garner a really definitive, really distinctive once-over. What he does get, however, are warmly sympathetic, engagingly suggestive rah-rah treatments, such as the current study by Radcliff Squires, one of the best of that tribe yet offered. Professor Squires posits Frost as a poet of patterns, one who pinpoints the relationships of man to nature and of man to God, fully, acknowledging and accepting the family quarrel going on between them, for Frost is no provincial primitive but an exemplar of the New England ethos. He is an aristocrat who parlays country store populism, a self-deprecating yet self-fulfilled sensibility rooted in and growing out of the American experience such as Emerson, Dickinson and Robinson. To the illumination of such poems as West-Running Brook, Woodpile and A Masque of Reason, then, Professor Squires accents the Frostian exaltation of a hard-won honesty, of a controlled passion, always stopping just short of the threshold vision, the celestial confrontation, never allowing it to blow up into metaphysical romanticism (""There may be little or much beyond the grave/But the strong are saying nothing until/ they see""). He remains, in the end, a poet of earth scanning the heavens, like a farmer on the lookout for rain. A good, generous job.