Robert Frost Recites ‘Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening’

Today is the birth­day of Robert Frost, who once said that a poem can­not be wor­ried into being, but rather, “Like a piece of ice on a hot stove the poem must ride on its own melt­ing.” Those words are from Frost’s 1939 essay, “The Fig­ure a Poem Makes,” which includes the famous pas­sage:

The fig­ure a poem makes. It begins in delight and ends in wis­dom. The fig­ure is the same as for love. No one can real­ly hold that the ecsta­sy should be sta­t­ic and stand still in one place. It begins in delight, it inclines to the impulse, it assumes direc­tion with the first line laid down, it runs a course of lucky events, and ends in a clar­i­fi­ca­tion of life–not nec­es­sar­i­ly a great clar­i­fi­ca­tion, such as sects and cults are found­ed on, but in a momen­tary stay against con­fu­sion.

To cel­e­brate the 138th anniver­sary of the poet­’s birth, we bring you rare footage (above) from PBS and the Poet­ry Foun­da­tion of Frost recit­ing his clas­sic poem, “Stop­ping by Woods on a Snowy Evening,” in Jan­u­ary of 1959, when he was 84 years old. You can also lis­ten to a four-part record­ing (below) of Frost read­ing a selec­tion of his poems in 1956, cour­tesy of Harp­er Audio.

  • Robert Frost Read­ing, Part One: “The Road Not Tak­en,” “The Pas­ture,” “Mow­ing,” “Birch­es,” “After Apple-Pick­ing,” and “The Tuft of Flow­ers.”
  • Robert Frost Read­ing, Part Two: “West-Run­ning Brook” and “The Death of the Hired Man.”
  • Robert Frost Read­ing, Part Three: “Mend­ing Wall,” “One More Brevi­ty,” “Depart­men­tal,” “A Con­sid­er­able Speck,” and “Why Wait for Sci­ence.”
  • Robert Frost Read­ing, Part Four: “Ethe­re­al­iz­ing,” “Pro­vide, Pro­vide,” “One Step Back­ward Tak­en,” “Choose Some­thing Like a Star,” “Hap­pi­ness Makes Up in Height,” and “Reluc­tance.”

by | Permalink | Comments (3) |

Sup­port Open Cul­ture

We’re hop­ing to rely on our loy­al read­ers rather than errat­ic ads. To sup­port Open Cul­ture’s edu­ca­tion­al mis­sion, please con­sid­er mak­ing a dona­tion. We accept Pay­Pal, Ven­mo (@openculture), Patre­on and Cryp­to! Please find all options here. We thank you!

Comments (3)
You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

Leave a Reply

Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.