“Education is the ability to listen to almost anything without losing your temper […]”

Robert Frost, from Reader’s Digest April Issue 1960

Portrait of Robert Frost Circa 1910 via Wikipedia.

Robert Frost (March 26, 1874 – January 29, 1963) was an American poet, perhaps most famous for his poem “The Road Not Taken” (1916). Born in San Francisco, California, Robert’s father died when he was only 11; he and his mother were left impoverished with only eight dollars. With the help of his grandfather they moved to Lawrence, Massachusetts where he graduated high school. He attended Dartmouth College for two months, but returned home to teach and to work various jobs, including delivering newspapers and working in a factory. In 1894, he sold his first poem, “My Butterfly. An Elegy” (published in the New York Independent) for $15 ($449 today). This was a tremendous accomplishment, and he pursued it with difficulty. His mother died of cancer in 1900. Mental illness ran in his family, and Robert, his mother, and his sister all suffered from depression and other disorders. He bought a farm in Franconia, New Hampshire, where he lived with his wife and children and launched a career of writing, teaching, and lecturing. He wrote many of his most important poetical works here. In 1924, he won the first of four Pulitzer Prizes for the book New Hampshire: A Poem with Notes and Grace Notes. He would win additional Pulitzers for Collected Poems (1931), A Further Range (1937), and A Witness Tree (1943). Despite literary success, Robert’s life was not a happy one, riddled with death and loss. Of his six children only two outlived him, and his wife died in 1938. Frost’s poetry reflects these events, navigating around existential grief. He was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature 31 times, but never won. Frost died in Boston on January 29, 1963. He is buried at the Old Bennington Cemetery in Bennington, Vermont. His epitaph quotes the last line from his poem, “The Lesson for Today” (1942): “I had a lover’s quarrel with the world.”

Editor’s Note: The full quote is as follows: “Education is the ability to listen to almost anything without losing your temper or self-confidence.” Love to Robert.

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