Student rediscovers unpublished
poem by Robert Frost
A sleuthing University of Virginia
graduate student has rediscovered a never-before-published poem by
much-loved U.S. poet Robert Frost.
A rediscovered unpublished poem reveals
his devastation by the death of fellow poet Edward Thomas.
September 28, 2006. Sources:
The Virginia Quarterly
Frost wrote War Thoughts at Home as a
tribute to a friend killed during the First World War.
It will be published next week in the Virginia
Quarterly Review, the University of Virginia said Wednesday.
Graduate student Robert Stilling heard of the
existence of the poem in May 2005 while looking through Frost's
Stilling read a reference to an "unpublished
poem about the war which has not been reprinted," in a 1947 letter by
Frederick Melcher, a friend and supporter of Frost, who lived from 1874 to
Melcher was head of Publishers Weekly and helped
establish the Newbery and Caldecott medals for children's literature.
Stilling found a copy of the poem handwritten
inside a copy of North of Boston, Frost's second collection of
poetry, that had belonged to Melcher.
The book was part of an uncatalogued Frost
archive at the University of Virginia.
"There, inscribed by Frost, was a poem that
began with a 'flurry of bird war' and ended with a train of sheds laying
'dead on a side track,'" Stilling writes in the Virginia Quarterly Review.
Frost's dark 35-line poem imagines a soldier's
wife in an old house at wintertime, when she is alarmed by the "rage" of
some blue jays.
She puts down her sewing, looks out the window
and watches the birds with these lines:
"And one says to the rest
just watch our chance
And escape one by one
Though the fight is no more
Than the war is in France."
Than the war is in France!
She thinks of a winter camp
Where soldiers for France are made.
She draws down the window shade
And it glows with an early lamp.
The poem is a tribute to British poet Edward
Thomas, who volunteered for duty and was killed in France in 1917.
Frost was in Britain at the beginning of the war
and befriended Thomas, who had a collection of Frost's poetry in his
possession at the time he died.
Stilling said he doesn't know why the poem was
never published, but the death of his friend appears to have been
devastating to Frost.
the final lines of the poem which we’ll quote
per the quota) sketch the scene outside:
The uneven sheds stretch back
Shed behind shed in train
Like cars that have long lain
Dead on a side track.
Frost, famous for such poems as
The Road Not
Taken and Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening, was a four-time
Pulitzer Prize winner. He died at age 88 in 1963.
An essay about the poem, written by graduate
student Robert Stilling, is available online. See:
Between Friends: Rediscovering the War Thoughts of Robert Frost.
celebrates found poem
October 6, 2006. Source: Minneapolis
An unpublished Robert Frost poem, a
tribute to a friend killed during World War I, is featured in the
current issue of Virginia Quarterly Review. Frost had inscribed "War
Thoughts at Home" in 1918 in a single copy of his second collection
of poems, "North of Boston." Robert Stilling, a graduate student at
the University of Virginia, discovered the poem and book after
tracking some clues embedded in correspondence at the university's
Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library.
Frost published 11 poems in VQR between
1928 and 1946, including "Acquainted With the Night,"The Silken
Tent" and "The Gift Outright." Editor Ted Genoways writes: "VQR is
gratified to feature this discovery, both because it is one of the
remarkable treasures in the University of Virginia's special
collections and because it welcomes back Robert Frost to our pages."