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FROST, ROBERT - The Vermont Poet Confesses: 'I haven't found much to do with myself'
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FROST, ROBERT - The Vermont Poet Confesses: 'I haven't found much to do with myself'

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I haven’t found much to do with myself


FROST, ROBERT. (1874-1963). American poet and four time Pulitzer Prize winner; author of such beloved poems as The Road Not Taken, Mending Wall and Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening. ALS. (“Robert”). 1p. Large 8vo. (Bread Loaf, August 26, 1938). To influential professor of literature and writer on American culture CORNELIUS WEYGANDT (1871-1957).


I had heard from Payne, but he hadn’t told me when he was coming or where he expected to find me. By the second or third of September I shall be settled down at Concord Corners Vermont, ten or eleven miles west of Littleton N.H. At present I am at Bread Loaf VT for the Writers Conference. Of course it would do my heart good to see you and Payne if it can be arranged. Is Concord Corners too far out of the way? My health is almost too good and I haven’t found much to do with myself. I’m glad you have books coming on. My best to you and the family. Ever yours…”


Although born and raised in San Francisco, Frost had a deep association with New England, living and writing variously in Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont. Frost was not only an annual attendee at the Bread Loaf School of English and Writer’s Conference in Vermont’s Green Mountains, but, beginning in 1932, “assumed a major role in molding its essence and objectives in promoting good writing. For over thirty summers Frost was the literary lion at Bread Loaf. The poet’s love of Bread Loaf led him in 1939 to buy the Homer Noble Farm [in Ripton, Vermont], almost within shouting distance west of the Bread Loaf Campus. Thereafter, he was not merely a visiting lecturer but a resident of Bread Loaf and spent about six months each year, from May through October, on his farm,” (The Robert Frost Encyclopedia, ed. Tuten and Zubizarreta). Our letter also mentions his occasional residence in Concord Corners, Vermont which he found while “searching in the mid-1930s for new ‘vital places’ to restore his equanimity… [and where] he bought two houses in the small, nearly abandoned hamlet located a short distance from St. Johnsbury, and spent the end of the summer of 1937 there… He was pleased to find out that Concord Corners had been the first site of a normal school in the United States, and he enjoyed the view his houses afforded of the New Hampshire mountains. When hay fever season ended, he returned to Amherst feeling refreshed,” (The Life of Robert Frost, Hart).


After battling breast cancer and enduring several heart attacks, Elinor, Frost’s wife of 42 years, died in March 1938, leaving Frost on the verge of collapse. Although our letter attests to his regaining his health by late summer, he states he has not “found much to do with myself.”


Leonidas Warren Payne Jr. (1873-1945) was a Texas native who studied literature at University of Pennsylvania, later serving as a member of the faculty. In 1906, he returned to teach at the University of Texas. Despite the geographical separation, he enjoyed a long friendship with Frost as well as poets Carl Sandburg and Edwin Arlington Robinson who also lived in New Hampshire. He was an early champion of e.e. cummings’ poetry and edited the anthologies History of American Literature, A Survey of Texas Literature and Texas Poems.


Weygandt was a professor of English literature at the University of Pennsylvania from 1897 to 1952 and had special interests in poetry, especially that of the Celtic Revival, and the influence of German colonial culture on the modern provincialism of Pennsylvania and New Hampshire, a topic on which he wrote and published at length. He spent his summers at his seasonal home in North Sandwich, New Hampshire, near the community of Wonalancet, a short distance northwest of Frost’s home.


Folded with very faint age toning. Near fine. Accompanied by the original envelope addressed to Weygandt in North Sandwich, New Hampshire and bearing a Bread Loaf postmark.


Item #20111

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