Take a Trip to 'Robert Frost, At Present in Vermont' at Bennington Museum

  • June 20, 2021 15:04

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The exhibit includes the painting “The Birches,” 1940, by Luigi Lucioni. Image courtesy The Collection of Lyman Orton and the Vermont Country Store

Robert Frost’s life and work as a poet and farmer in Vermont are illustrated with an exhibition at Bennington Museum.

Just over 100 years ago Robert Frost arrived in Vermont's Bennington County, where he lived in South Shaftsbury from 1920 to 1938. This exhibition celebrates and explores the local legacy of America’s most beloved poet.

From this new home base, Frost travelled often for readings and academic appointments across the country. Vermont became a “strategic retreat” where he could write, and connect with nature, family, and a circle of friends that included many other talented artists and writers.

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Frost wrote many of his most famous poems and won three of his unprecedented four Pulitzer prizes while living in South Shaftsbury. “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening,” which he called “my best bid for remembrance,” and “New Hampshire,” in which he lays out his personal theory of poetry and his deep affection for New England, were composed in the same all-night writing session in June of 1922. “New Hampshire” ends with the ironic line, “At present I am living in Vermont,” which has been adapted for this exhibition’s title. Frost’s poems still resonate today as accessible expressions of a quintessential Yankee spirit. In plain, precise, yet musical language, frequently laced with dry wit, they combine keen observation of the natural world with deep, and sometimes dark, reckonings on the human condition.

“Apple Tree and Grindstone,” 1923, by J.J. Lankes. Courtesy Dartmouth College Special Collections

Frost was inspired by the local landscape—the apple trees he planted, the stone walls he admired, and the fields, forests, lakes, and streams surrounding his Shaftsbury farms. The region’s cultural and human networks proved no less stimulating. His circle of friends and colleagues included writers Dorothy Canfield Fisher, Sarah Cleghorn, Genevieve Taggard, Zephine Humphrey, and Margaret and Walter Hard, Sr.; publisher and businessman Vrest Orton; visual artists Charles Burchfield, Rockwell Kent, J.J. Lankes, Luigi Lucioni, and Clara Sipprell; and local mail clerk and beekeeper Charles Monroe.

Robert Frost in front of his home in South Shaftsbury, Vermont, 1921. Photo: Paul Waitt, courtesy Dartmouth College Special Collections

Tags: american art

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