Hi everyone! My sweet husband and I made it back to Albany late Thursday night, in time to take our sweet daughter to her driver’s test yesterday morning–she passed, by the way(!). Thank you all so much for your kind thoughts and prayers while we were with family in Pittsburgh, you blessed us so much.
I mentioned a few weeks ago that we took a day trip to Bennington (VT), where we shopped, ate delicious fish and chips at L’il Britains, and toured the Robert Frost Stone House Museum in Shaftsbury, just north of Bennington. Have I ever told you that one of my [many] past “careers” involved teaching English Comp to home-schoolers? During that time I re-discovered Frost and fell in love with his poetry, so I was really looking forward to visiting this site.
Though it costs just $5.00 to enter the house, I don’t recommend paying to “tour” the two rooms that are open to the public. The walls are lined with panels detailing Frost’s biography, information that is readily available on the internet, and there are very few Frost artifacts. That said, the grounds are quite lovely and worth a short visit (30-60 minutes), if you are in the area.
It’s a simple cottage, built in 1769 and set on a beautiful landscape of barns, stone walls, and perennial flower gardens. Frost purchased the property in 1920 hoping to develop a successful farm.
It was in this home that he wrote his first of four Pulitzer Prize-winning books, New Hampshire, which contains one of his best-loved poems, “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening.” In fact an entire room in the museum is devoted to this poem, including interviews in which he’s asked about it’s “deeper” meaning. I loved some of his responses, which encouraged readers to simply read and enjoy what he wrote and to try not to dig for what is not there.
The last, haunting stanza is hard to forget: “The woods are lovely, dark and deep, But I have promises to keep, And miles to go before I sleep, And miles to go before I sleep.”
And though the temperatures rose into the 90’s, I couldn’t help but think of those words when I looked out on the woods behind the house. Were those the lovely, dark and deep woods he spoke of?
And another favorite, “Mending Wall,” that leaves the reader with the wise and true adage, “Good fences make good neighbors.”
Frost’s red barn provided me with plenty of what I love: all things old, painted, and chipped. He bought the property to farm, particularly to grow apples, but neither he, nor his son, Carol, to whom he gifted the land, proved to be successful farmers. And sadly, Carol took his life in 1940, two years after Frost’s wife, Elinor, died of cancer.
One of the barns remains unpainted, beautifully weathered to driftwood gray.
Along the side of the gray barn, I discovered these lovely clusters of pale green.
One of my favorite Frost poems, “The Road Less Taken,” begins with the line, “Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,” and while the wood was not yellow deep into the month of July when we visited, these sunny yellow daisies brought that poem to mind.
Frost died in 1963 after teaching for years at several colleges, including Amherst and Middlebury, among others. [He called it “barding” about.] In 1962 he famously read one of his poems at JFK’s inauguration, and a few years later, when Amherst dedicated its Robert Frost Library, JFK gave opening remarks. Buried in Bennington at the Revolutionary-era Old First Congregational Church, his tombstone reads, “I had a lover’s quarrel with the world.” Finding his final resting place will be on our agenda next time we are in town.
Other Bennington posts you may enjoy:
Driving to Bennington
Exploring Grandma Moses Country
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