English 24

Freshman Seminar: Reading Robert Frost

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
5 Fall 2005 McQuade, Donald
McQuade, Don
Mon. 4-5 109 Wheeler

Other Readings and Media

Lanthem, E.C., ed.: Poetry of Robert Frost


"In a letter to a publisher friend, Robert Frost offered the following engaging definition of poetry: �A poem starts with a lump in the throat, a homesickness or a lovesickness. It is a reaching out toward expression, an effort to find fulfillment. A complete poem is one where an emotion has found its thought and the thought has found the words� My definition of poetry (if I were forced to give one) would be this: words that have become deeds.

This course will explore the satisfactions and the challenges of reading�carefully and pleasurably�selected poems and essays by Robert Frost, one of America�s most widely read and least understood and appreciated poets. He was widely regarded for decades as America�s most popular representative of poetry, and Frost deliberately cultivated his public image as a �rustic sage� and a rural wit in his numerous public readings and in his role as a good will ambassador. Frost was a poet who promoted an aura of bucolic dignity in his work and in his readings, and the surface features of his poems often lull readers into thinking they understand his work. Yet reading Frost�s poetry more carefully�to read him, as he says, with our �hearing imagination,� listening for �sentence sounds��reveals a tough-minded and often skeptical attitude towards experience.

Students will be expected to write two short analytical essays (2-3 pages each) or�for those who are venturesome�perhaps a few poems. In addition, regular attendance and participation in class discussions will be required to pass the course."

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