frost on the farm

140210_r24626_p465Dan Chiasson at The New Yorker:

Frost’s stone walls, old barns, cellar holes, birches, and brooks—the sedimentary, second-growth New England that, before Frost, had awaited its bard—imply a writer who cared, like Thoreau, only to be “admitted to Nature’s hearth.” But, wherever he went, Frost schemed to buy land or a house or a farm. Frost is sometimes still associated with the old-fashioned comforts of home, but in reality he was frequently on the move, spending, and often squandering, whatever investments of the heart and the wallet he had lately made. Those cozy houses and picturesque farms that litter the countryside make a trail of places Frost fled. Emerson, whose work he always kept nearby, suggests the fitting motto: “Everything good is on the highway.” And yet Frost never really lit out for the territories; instead, he moved among carbon-copy small farms with mountain views, and smart Victorians on the fringes of campuses, where, having escaped the “academic ways” he always said he loathed, he could return day after day.

Throughout his life, Frost moved into things so he could move out. He does this in language, too, veering toward certainties in order to evade them. He knew, like his “Oven Bird,” how “in singing not to sing.” Frost can be trying company, but he is company: no modern poet draws us so close, though what he does to us at close range is often impolite.

more here.